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D1 Milano Skeleton Automatic (English)


Editor’s note:

This post is an edited and expanded version of content first published on 07/06/2020.

The Brand

D1 Milano is an Italian watch manufacturer of premium fashion watches founded in Milan in 2013 and headed by the 26-year old CEO Dario Spallone. You can find an interview with him here.

According to the corporate presentation, “D1 Milano produces iconic recognizable watches. With strong shapes, a competitive price point, attention to details and aesthetics, D1 Milano produces unconventionally Italian Products that represent our strong Italian heritage.”

Currently, D1 Milano has offices in Dubai and Hong Kong and is distributed in 28 countries in hundreds of stores such as Luisa Via Roma, La Rinascente, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols GCC and many more. At last count, the company lists 676 outlets in its store locator, concentrated in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

D1 Milano has a current offering that is heavily reliant on a Genta-esq case, across six collection lines (Polycarbon, Ultra-Thin Classic, Ultra-Thin Bracelet, Commando, Chronograph and Mechanical) with a total of 72 models on offer. The Mechanical collection includes the Skeleton that we review below. The company has also issued 5 limited edition pieces. The recognisable case shape is also used for its smaller quartz-powered women’s models.

The D1 Milano Skeleton Automatic

Can a patchwork of classic Gérald Genta designs amount to something more than just another homage watch?

In classic Genta style, nearly every surface is brushed, angular, and octagonal. The octagonal case and angular lugs are reminiscent of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and the smooth screw-less bezel reminds very much of the Patek Philippe Nautilus.

But this D1 Milano Skeleton has its own personality: by combining all these classic elements from Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe it comes across as the perfect modern reinterpretation of these legendary pieces. 

The case is 41,5 mm wide, 11,5 mm thick and from lug to lug it measures at 50 mm. Like both the Royal Oak and the Nautilus it has a proper screw-down crown which is easy to grip and use. The watch is water resistant to 50 m.

The octagonal crown operates the SEIKO NH70A caliber, a heavily skeletonized dateless version of the NH35 family, i.e. the NH38A in this particular case. D1 Milano has opted for a two-hand time display with this piece, with the minute hand capping the pinion.

The finishing on the watch movement and dial is impeccable: what strikes me the most is how the hands, and the pinion they are mounted on, tower over the levels below. I absolutely love the depth that this watch conveys as it makes for an always interesting subject to admire.

Another nice detail is the printing on the underside of the mineral crystal of the D1 Milano logo and the name of the piece “Skeleton”. The case back is held by eight screws and is of the exhibition type.

Each link of the bracelet is closely and precisely designed, providing a perfect continuity from the case to the clasp. They all have the same matching brushed finish and multiple angular surfaces as the case, catching the light well as you roll the wrist. 

The D1 Milano Skeleton is modern and brash and a very compelling value proposition. You are getting a well-built and nicely finished contemporary design for thousands less than the icons that inspired it, all from a brand which started as a university project in 2014 — while its Italian founder was still attending college.

The brand currently offers seven variations of the Skeleton, four on a bracelet and three on (natural) rubber. The rubber versions come in silver, rose gold and gun metal, and retail for €565, all with a mineral front crystal. There are similarly finished versions with the bracelet, with the silver one retailing for €600 and the rose gold and gun metal ones for €630.

The latest addition is the XRAY version, black-plated throughout and with a sapphire crystal, is also priced at €630.

In my opinion, this piece offers an opportunity to acquire a good watch with a modern design and a pleasant aesthetic at what I consider a contained price.

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