In-Depth Review - D1 Milano Ultra Thin Blue UTBJ03
I remember when I first saw a D1 Milano and it was on Instagram, couple of the people I follow had picked on up (Or had one sent to them) and was showing it off. Obviously, like everyone else, I immediately got the Gerald Genta vibe. A real design marriage of the Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet and the Nautilus by Patek Philippe, but at under £300 is there anything wrong with that? That is what we will look at in this review. I was lucky enough to pick this up from a friend for a good price and purchased it with the intent of reviewing, I wasn’t sure if it would stay in my collection and I can confirm now it won’t be, it will more than likely be sold by the time you are reading this. More on that in the conclusion!
Let’s start this off by saying yes this is a quartz watch and yes, it is a homage, if those two things are not to your interest in the first place then this review won’t be for you. Whereas if you are interested to see how this watch holds up on its own merits, then read on and let’s find out.
D1 Milano, “Wear Your Attitude” as the website shouts, was set up by Dario Spallone who is 26 and founded the company in 2013 in Milan. They state that “D1 Milano is an Italian Watch Manufacturer of Premium Fashion Watches” and I would say that is a very fair statement that sums up what they do perfectly. You may have seen some of their other designs around Instagram which was a plastic style watch in the same vein as what we have here today.
You might be saying to yourself “James, for the asking price this is a lot of money for a quartz homage watch, would I not be better off with Seiko or Orient or something?” and my answer is 100% yes, buy a Seiko! But chances are if you are looking at this watch and considering it, you’re probably not in the buying market of a Seiko right now as these are VERY different watches. This is for the “Fashion Conscious” person who wants a very iconic and recognisable design, for a fraction of the cost of what the “real deal” is.
As a watch on its own merits, it is incredibly well made and shocked me when I first handled one, I had seen them online and on Instagram and always thought they looked nice but never had the highest hopes for quality. I was proven wrong, the finish is top-level, both on the dial, bracelet, case, crown etc… Everything is very well done. The design, whilst a homage to the Royal Oak and Nautilus, is very well executed and not a direct rip-off, some may disagree with me, but it isn’t.
My ultimate “Grail” watch is the Royal Oak 15202st which is the 39mm Ultra-Thin true to original form Royal Oak! So, it is no surprise I liked the design of this 40mm watch by D1 Milano but is it also the reason why this watch is not staying in my collection? Keep reading to find out!
The bracelet is where this watch shines way beyond its asking price, usually, we see microbrands have incredible watches with terrible bracelets, often I think this is due to the money being spent primarily on the watch head, the movement, the dial etc… and the bracelet is left as an afterthought. Whereas with this D1 Milano the use of a Quartz movement brings the overall cost of the “head” of the watch down leaving money to be spent on the production of the bracelet, which is incredible!
I always love it when a bracelet has a significant taper like this, at the head of the watch the bracelet starts at 25mm and works its way down to 16mm at the clasp, that is one significant taper! But it does not look out of place when on the wrist if anything it looks incredible and adds to the comfort as there is no bulky bracelet or clasp, it slopes around the wrist as a bracelet should.
The clasp used is a double folding clasp, completely milled and very high quality. Again, to keep with the clean aesthetic they have gone with a pull security system, so you must get your finger underneath and pull it open. This removes any buttons protruding from the side of the bracelet and keeps that perfect flow from the case to the back of the bracelet. The clasp folds into itself with the “D1 Milano” branding, this branding is done perfectly and is not too large, then again with a taper down to 16mm they did not have a lot of space to work within the first place.
The bracelet links are H style links which are finished to a very high standard, not something we see at this price point. When on the wrist it plays with the light as it bounces from link to link and works its way in and out of the grooves. The links are push pin in design with a screw in end link to swap to other strap options that D1 Milano provide if you choose to go with one of those, personally, I think the bracelet is so good you won’t need or want to swap it, but that is just me!
The dial is advertised as “Navy Blue” and that it is, but they missed a buzzword which describes it perfectly and that is “Sunburst”. The colour of this dial is spot on, beautiful tone of blue that just plays with natural light so effortlessly, match that with the applied and finely polished stick indices you have a treat when the light hits it at that perfect angle. They haven’t slacked on the hands either, highly polished sword hands with a perfect split down the middle giving it again a light play that is just brilliant. Beyond this the only other 2 things on the entirety of the dial are “D1 Milano” and “Ultra Thin”, both in an unobtrusive font, perfect size and well placed on the dial. As far as aesthetics go, they have nailed this dial. The lack of a minute track or any other clutter adds to the beauty of the dial and goes well with the overall design of the case and bracelet.
If I was to be nit-picky, I would say that the removal of “Ultra Thin” would have taken this dial to the realm of absolute perfection. But that is just my opinion and the lettering does play with symmetry of the logo at 12 o’clock, so again it is a win/win with whatever they chose.
There seems to be a lack of information online about the movement and what is inside, the case back and D1 Milano website themselves say it is a Japanese Quartz Movement but nowhere specifies exactly. A few websites where these sell state “Miyota” but again no exact references. So as far as we know it is a Miyota Quartz movement inside.
What we do know is it allows this watch to be incredibly thin and light, you barely notice you are wearing the watch, especially when fitted correctly to the wrist it just wears beautifully. And it goes without saying, it is very accurate, or as accurate as I can tell with the lack of a second hand.
The age-old debate of whether it should be quartz or not has become boring. For the brand to achieve this level of thinness a quartz movement was required or a very high-end mechanical movement which would have skyrocketed the price into unobtainable levels for most. I like the pickup and go aspect of quartz and reliability of it, also having no second’s hand makes it not noticeable as quartz and within a few minutes of wearing you do not even care anymore. If you like the design and you like the price don’t let a battery put you off!
Am I amazed by the build quality offered here at this price point? Absolutely yes! I would go as far as saying build quality wise it beats any “Micro-Brand” at this price, attention to detail, finishing, bracelet quality, comfort and so on is top quality. Does the quartz bother me? Not one bit! Not having a second-hand helps this, but truth be told I am less and less offended by a ticking hand than I used to be. Now I appreciate watches for what they are.
That all sounds well and good, but why am I selling this watch then? For me, it truly does tick all the boxes and I would love to keep it, but I just know I wouldn’t wear it. I enjoy original designs and things that I can be proud to wear, even if that is just a Seiko Turtle or a sub £500 watch. This watch I put it on, and I just don’t connect with it, sure I am blown away by all the build quality and looks, but it just doesn’t do it for me. It is probably because my dream watch is a Royal Oak 15202st, therefore this just feels too “Try-Hard” if you will.
Does that mean you shouldn’t buy it? Not at all, I’m a huge advocate to buy what you like! I own some watches that I know a lot of people would hate, but that is part of the fun. Buy what you like, understand what you truly like and follow that. If that is this watch, go ahead and get it and you won’t be disappointed!
Specs & Availability
Dimensions – 40mm Case Size / 6mm Thickness / 25mm Lugs (Integrated) / 47mm Lug-Lug
Case Material – Stainless Steel
Strap/Bracelet – Stainless Steel – Other Options
Dial - Blue
Lume – None
Water Resistance – 50 Meters
Movement – Miyota Quartz
Price - £290 RRP
Availability – Available Online