Italian Watch Brand D1 MILANO Goes Against Ostentation

DA MAN Chats Exclusively with President and CEO of D1 Milano Dario Spallone.

President and CEO of D1 Milano Dario Spallone

In the middle of a crowd wearing glamorous black and gold outfits sat a man wearing casual light blue oxford shirt and jeans. He sits with his trusted colleagues who built his company at just the age of 19. That man is Dario Spallone, President and CEO of D1 Milano, who is in Indonesia for the launch of his Italian fashion watch label at A/A Bar, Gunawarman.

D1—which stands for “The One”—Milano was the brainchild of Dario Spallone, created along with his sister and two close friends as a university project, during his time at Milan’s Bocconi University in 2013. With already 14 collections that draw inspiration from watches of the 1970s—particularly the work of legendary watch designer Gerald Genta—the Dubai-based Italian brand is one of the fastest growing in the industry, even catching the eyes of celebrities like actor Tyreese Gibson and DJ-producer Diplo.

The concept was about creating a watch, which at the same time was fun, was affordable, but was, let’s say…not premium but of quality,” he explained to DA MAN. “Premium is about quality, about details, about character. So everything together makes the premium nature of D1 Milano.”

Skeleton collection

The brand was launched in 2013 at the highly prestigious Milan Fashion Week. Since then, the brand has produced 300 watches in its first year and currently around 100,000 which is distributed to 700 stores worldwide in 31 countries—with Indonesia joining the list, thanks to its recent partnership with Time International.

When asked about what D1 Milano’s typical client would be like, Dario describes them as “Somebody who has style, and doesn’t only care about trends. Who wants to wear a piece that talks about him or her, in a very substantial way.”

With that, it seems Dario isn’t that much keen in joining the watch world’s elites, but instead prefers to let the magic of inimitability do its work. “Usually people like watches because of fashion, or because of the brand. But this one, you like how it looks on you. You like the details, you like the crown, you like the back case; you know it’s a niche product, and you feel good about it because it’s a niche product.”

D1 Milano features sharp, minimalistic, and cutting-edge geometric shapes; it goes against the ostentatious styles we know today.

Ultra Thin collection
Polycarbon collection

I always take this example: You know Italian food is very good, and you like it. But it’s only mozzarella, tomatoes, and oil. Simple ingredients but the best,” he said. “This is the same thing I am doing with D1 Milano. We like to do simple things, but through colors, textures, finishing, we try to portray quality.”

And it’s not just about quality or the attention to details that D1 Milano was after (Dario is said to be “very anal” about these things). “You have a culture that you want to portray, and we wanted to show this through a product. We want to show Italian culture and craftsmanship through details.”

He later went on to deny the typical flamboyant Italian stereotype, saying “I think those brands that are flamboyant are not really Italian. Italian culture is much more basic, but you see it through a quality of finishing, details; this is what D1 Milano is about and what the culture of the products about.

During the occasion, he also talked us through the latest collection of D1 Milano, the D1 Milano’s chronograph collection which promises to be a “game changer this season”. The collection is the first of D1 Milano’s line of chronographs which features a Seiko Meca-Quarz movement that ensures precise timekeeping, thanks to its smooth chrono pushers and 20/100s sweeping chrono hand, a fly back reset function, deep brushed finishing, and water resistant feature. It comes in blue, black and grey dial.

When there is already so much watch brands in the world, Dario knows exactly what it takes to make D1 Milano distinguishable: that is by simply being different—just like himself among the crowds.  “You have thousands of watch brands, why is this brand growing so fast? Because of the details, the colors, the attention to details. These make the difference. Making it from the best materials, the best colors, the best finishing, and the best people.

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