Two very good looking watches for those willing to trade expensive movements for great finishing and a wide selection of design options.

Disclaimer: I received both the Atlas and the Ocean from D1 Milano to review. I am not required to return these watches to them. That said, these opinions are my own and D1 Milano had no input or influence over the outcome of this article. I was not paid to write this article.

I first heard of D1 Milano while browsing Instagram for interesting watches. I saw one of their watches and it immediately caught my eye. I’m a big fan of 70s watch design and Gerald Genta’s ever-lasting impression on the watch world. I looked into the brand and was impressed by the huge arsenal of watches they had produced, all cohesive in design and very visually appealing. I wasn’t a fan of the name, but was curious about the watches. I couldn’t figure out exactly where in the watch world this particular brand was positioned, but over time I discovered that their biggest consumer was the “fashionable & trendy” watch enthusiast.

Fast forward to a few months later to when D1 Milano approached me and asked if they could send me some watches to check out. If I liked them I could review and share it on my social media – a pretty good offer! As someone not familiar with the “fashionable & trendy” world of watches, I was a bit skeptical at first but decided to go ahead anyway. The only way to change my limited knowledge of a watch brand is to actually get one and spend some time with it. I received two watches from them, the Automatic Atlas and the Ultra Thin Ocean. It should come as no surprise that I picked these particular models since they’re both… well, blue.

I’ve had both these watches for about 6 weeks now, and here is a quick review of both of them:

Ultra Thin Ocean

Case Dimensions: 38mm (W) x 6mm (H)

Glass: Sapphire Crystal

Movement: Miyota Quartz

Discounts: Not typically, but occasionally 10-15%

Price: $365

Before even getting into the Automatic Atlas, I must say that the Ultra Thin Ocean quickly became my favorite and I’ve decided to add this watch to my collection. I love the aesthetic and the extremely thin case (6mm). I also like the smaller case (38mm) and it will make a nice addition next to my vintage Tissot Seastar.
The dial is exceptionally clean, with a subtle texture to the dial and perfectly sized, high polished hands. The lack of a seconds hand is an excellent choice.
It is hard to say no this watch. The watch is an impressive 6mm thick, with a 38mm case diameter. I love how the Ultra Thin wears on my 6.25” wrist.
Personally, I am more inclined towards the Ultra Thin Ocean because it is a perfect package for someone who is looking for a handsome, dressy watch. Some may argue that the price of $365 is steep for a quartz dress watch, and yes, this is on the higher end of the spectrum but (a) you are getting a watch that looks terrific on your wrist, (b) has a very well finished dial and (c) has the overall appearance of a watch significantly more expensive than it actually is.

Automatic Atlas

Case Dimensions: 41.5mm (W) x 11mm (H)

Glass: Sapphire Crystal

Movement: Seiko NH35

Discounts: Not typically, but occasionally 10-15%

Price: $625

The Atlas has all the makings of an excellent “Gerald Genta”-esque homage watch, even though their primary target audience appears to be fashion watch enthusiasts. The watch falls flat in terms of the movement, and most serious watch aficionados will find it difficult to justify spending $625 on a Seiko NH35. That said, Unimatic have done that in the past and had plenty of success, so maybe I’m wrong?
The bracelet looks like a million bucks and plays with the light beautifully. Personally I would have liked if the links were a little smoother (more polished down). The links articulate alright but the brushed finish is a bit on the rougher side.
The attention to detail on the dial is deserving of it’s $625 price tier. As I always do, I immediately took a loupe and macro-lens to both dials and couldn’t find anything to complain about. The hour indices are well finished, the paint on the seconds track is impeccable and the texture on the dial is stunning. The paint on the orange seconds hand has no discernible imperfections and the date window is perfectly positioned.
It would’ve been nice if in the fully screwed down position, the surfaces of the crown would be parallel to that of the case, but even Rolex hasn’t fully mastered that with their crown and logo.
The Atlas is my favorite watch from their automatic lineup, and they were kind enough to oblige and send me this particular model to review. I love the contrast of the blue dial and orange accents. It looks sporty, but not too casual.
The Atlas sits wonderfully on my wrist (6.25”) and the case is just the right height to look imposing, yet not obnoxious. The Atlas is a fantastic looking watch, but at full retail ($625), it is really difficult to put this watch on top of any serious watch short-lists, unless all you are looking for is a great looking watch.

Final Thoughts

From a value based perspective, both the Atlas (Automatic) and the Ocean (Ultra Thin Quartz) deliver identical levels of quality and attention to detail. The Automatic Atlas retails at $625 and the Ultra Thin Ocean at $365. At these price-points, it is difficult for serious watch enthusiasts to justify these watches given the vast new market of micro-brand watches in similar price ranges. For example, the Traska Freediver that I just reviewed is $35 more than the Ultra Thin Ocean, but has a decently regulated Seiko NH35 and has a hardened stainless steel surface coating.

These watches are for those that value appearance, and want a well manufactured watch that is made in the same design language of very popular watches today. If you want a watch that looks expensive, is designed and built well, the D1 Milano lineup is worth investigating. If you’re lucky you can find special deals on these watches that should get you around 10% off the retail.

41.5mm diameter case on the Atlas vs the 38mm diameter case on the Ultra Thin Ocean. The Atlas has a brighter shade of blue, with the sporty orange accents. This is an excellent looking watch that is bound to stand out and catch looks. The Ultra Thin Ocean is more subdued and subtle, and gives off the appearance of being a more serious and mature timepiece.
The bracelets look amazing but can feel a bit rough to touch. You don’t feel this while wearing it on your wrist, but has a somewhat coarse feeling to it as if it is slightly more brushed than necessary.

I’ve noticed a few people call D1 Milano “knock-offs” for their design similarities to the big players – Royal Oak, Nautilus etc. The design influence is undeniable, but these watches are in no way different to other “accepted” watch designs from micro-brands such as Melbourne Watch Co. and Spectre Watches. D1 Milano has instead created an entire cohesive line-up of fantastic looking watches, and are even dipping their toes in more modern and creative design variations such as full Polycarbon cases. They also had a beautiful Meteorite dial a while ago. I think the whole argument is a slippery slope, but let me not dive into it deeper by just chanting the mantra, “If it makes you happy and it doesn’t hurt anyone, wear it proudly”.

That said, I obviously do not deny the common design language, but selectively accepting one brand over another seems silly to me. I love Gerald Genta’s designs from the 70s and I own and proudly wear a vintage Tissot Seastar that is extremely similar to the AP style design language, but wasn’t designed by the man himself. Yet this watch is considered “acceptable”?

To quickly summarize, and since everyone loves bullet points so much:

  1. I don’t dig the name of the brand on the dial, I would’ve preferred just “D1” or “Milano”. I’m not a fan of multi-word brand names on watches (Christopher Ward, but D1 Milano’s logo placement and logo design are exponentially better in my opinion).
  2. Excellent attention to detail on the dial and very clean manufacturing and finishing. Even on the cheaper ($365 vs $625) Ultra Thin, the dial is almost impeccable and is much better than some watches I’ve owned that cost twice as much (looking at you, Hamilton and Seiko) .
  3. The bracelet design is nice and but I personally think the links could have been a little more rounded/smooth. The clasp mechanism on both butterfly bracelets are a bit coarse, but I’m biased against this style of bracelet clasps to begin with.
  4. The Atlas has a significant wrist presence – you’re bound to catch some looks with it’s imposing but not obnoxiously large dimensions. The weight distribution is just perfect and the case dimensions are great. The dial on the Atlas is sporty but serious enough to wear to an important meeting. The Ultra Thin is subtle and elegant and is likely to go under the radar.
  5. The movement on the Atlas feels a bit unrefined with respect to the rest of the watch. The rest of the watch feels significantly more expensive, but the movement makes it feel like it should cost $350. I think the NH35 is a decent movement, but is hard to justify on watches over $500. It should be noted that their target audience are more of the trendy-watch collectors/enthusiasts, and not really the deeply invested watch collector. But maybe a slightly higher grade Miyota or ETA movement? I think a lot more serious watch enthusiasts would be willing to part with $600 for this if it had a better movement.

If you’re looking for a watch that is satisfied by everything I said above, go check out their huge lineup of watches. There’s something there for everybody – excellent dial color and strap choices. I’m enjoying seeing D1 Milano take more creative liberties with their watches (meteorite dial, polycarbon cases, etc), and I’m excited to see what they come up with next! I hope they decide to continue to venture outside their comfort zone and experiment more with case designs and dial layouts.