D1 Milano – Italian Full Metal Jacket

By Frederik Drost
D1 Milano – Italian Full Metal Jacket

Finally I got my hands on a D1 Milano watch so that I can do a review and see whether these watches offer a good bang for your buck ! D1 Milano has been around for a while now, riding the wave of the popular metal sports watches trend with integrated bracelets. But are they just copying the likes of the famous Royal Oaks and Nautilus designs, or are they offering something new and different? And do you get a good quality watch for your money? 

There are already many reviews of D1 Milano out there, so i decided to review their newest model, the Atlas, their first watch with a sapphire crystal!

I present to you the D1 Milano Atlas


Overall Design

There is no doubt that D1 Milano got inspired by the likes of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Phillipe Nautilus, both very hot watches right now. I would say it is a mix of both and that definitely gives it its own personality. Here are the 2 watches I mentioned for visual reference.


The case and crown is definitely inspired by the Royal Oak, but with slightly more curved sides.


The shape of the crown is the same, but i actually prefer the D1 Milano crown with its more prominent beveled edge and clean look with no logo! They also kept the very thin profile of the Royal Oak, a design feature that I rarely see on microbrands these days. They tend to be thicker in this price segment.


The bezel is much more inspired by the Nautilus, but more angular. It is actually very different if you take into account the “cuts” or angles on each corner, going in towards the center of the watch. It gives the bezel a nice “angular symmetry” since both angles cancel each other out and really accentuates the bezel even more than on the Nautilus.


The bracelet is what would happen if the Royal Oak and the Nautilus bracelet had a baby. The construction is very Nautilus like, but the harder beveled edges, the fully brushed look and the downtapering reminds me more of the Royal Oak bracelet. The butterfly clasp on the D1 Milano is actually more discreet than any of the 2 models it was inspired by, and i LOVE the way it looks!

Here is where the homage inspiration ends… The dial is very well designed with a very clean and sporty, yet luxurious look. The matt blue dial with orange minute markers and the orange seconds hand creates a cool contrast with the high polished angular indices and sword hands. If i am not mistaken, the owner of D1 Milano is also a fan of the Rolex Milgauss which has the same kind of orange/blue/polished contrast on the dial

All in all, this watch manages to pay respect to several famous watch designs without blatantly copying them, and I truly think they have succeeded in creating a unique identity of their own. Are these design cues part of the reasons why D1 Milano is so successful? Perhaps, but many of my friends have never heard of the Nautilus of the Royal Oak, yet they find the design very appealing and satisfying.


Quality

The case, bezel, crystal and crown


All the metal finishes on this watch are up to par with the price range, if not better. The brushed finish is rougher than on any luxury watch, but all the lines are parallel and have the same depth. 

This watch does have sharp angles, but it is to be expected since it probably wasn’t hand polished. Only high-end watches tend to have those slightly soft angles that still look sharp. 

The bezel sits so close and tightly to the case that it looks like it’s just one piece of metal. That could seem irrelevant, but the opposite would make it look cheaper, especially on these kinds of designs.

d1 milano case back


The case back looks very cool and is held down by screws to ensure the 50 meters water resistance. It protrudes just enough to be hidden when worn, and the watch is actually surprisingly slim for an automatic watch.


The crown is very well machined and finished, and the unscrewing action is uniform, but still a bit gritty. I have seen way worse on watches at this price range, so this is very satisfying. I said it before, but I am a huge fan of the simple “no logo” crown. It looks great ! It’s also worth noting that the end of the screwing makes it possible to always align the crown to the case! That’s very important when you have a crown with this shape! 

This is the first D1 Milano watch to feature a sapphire crystal, and they didn’t go for the cheapest solution. The anti-glare coating is doing a good enough job at avoiding those pesky reflections hitting your eyes, but nothing out of the ordinary for this price range.


The dial

Everything on the dial is well aligned and the orange printing is very clean and crisp, just like the printed “automatico”. “D1 Milano” is printed slightly “thicker” than the rest giving it slight volume and shine. The indices and hands are well machined and polished, and only a very close look will reveal the duller edges that differentiate these indices from the ones on a 5000 Dollars watch. 

The orange seconds hand is well made and I really enjoy the matt paint. Having a shiny paint makes it look more like plastic, which I think looks cheap.

The date aperture is a little small in my opinion, making the date seem forced into that little square. However, the date is perfectly centered and the printing is crisp.


The bracelet 


The metal bracelet is well machined and all the links have the same consistent design. It is slightly rattly and features pins instead of screws, but it makes up for that in comfort and style. The underside has nice rounded edges to avoid any “nipping” of the skin and hair. 



The butterfly clasp is a well made solid metal clasp that uses tension to stay locked. I am usually not a fan of those, but this one feels solid and reassures me that it will keep on working for a long time. Not having pusher buttons is a great design choice and really makes the watch feel more luxurious.


The movement



If you are a watch enthusiast, the Seiko SII NH35 needs no introduction, but if you are new to the game, here is the break-down: Seiko makes watches and in-house movements, some even say they are the only ones to make “real” in-house movements. They make everything, even the crystals in their movements, giving them control over every part of the process. The result is a very affordable, robust, reliable and easy-to-service movement! 

It’s not the most precise movement, losing around 20 to 40 seconds a day, but i will do the job for a long time. Many people prefer the Seiko movements over Miyota, and i tend to lean Seiko as well, so I couldn’t be happier!


Price

I think the price is okay

Yes, i know you can get watches with a sapphire crystal, ETA 2824-2 movement, ceramic bezel and applied indices for the same price (if you know where to look). This watch does have many custom elements, like the bracelet, crown and case and the metal finishing is relatively good. It has a sapphire crystal (finally), a solid and discreet clasp and a good solid movement. All in all, i think it could have been sold for slightly less, but then shouldn’t the owner also earn something for his hard work? 

As for the resale value, you could probably sell it for half the price in good condition. However, i predict it would be easy to sell since the design is very attractive! 


Conclusion



D1 Milano has successfully merged design elements of 2 very famous luxury watches together to create a unique watch with its own identity. The Atlas is one of their sportiest models yet, and perhaps their most unique watch thanks to its colorful dial. If you love the AP Royal Oak or the Patek Phillipe Nautilus, but you don’t have the budget for them, this might be the closest you will get to wear one, without buying a fake. To be honest, I almost feel like I am wearing both at times.

These watches are definitely designed for the mainstream consumers, but as a watch enthusiast, it would be a lie to say I don’t enjoy mine. It is comfortable, streamlined and just a ton of fun to wear with a suit or some streetwear.

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