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Hard Things to Understand in Complicated Times

kokou adzo




We talked to DARIO SPALLONE of D1 Milano about its seriously stylish watches and here is what he had to say.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded D1 Milano.

DARIO SPALLONE: After graduating from Bocconi University, I had the opportunity to start a business. That opportunity allowed me the chance to take risks with very limited experience behind. I could tell you that when I started, I did it because I wanted to be autonomous, to have fun and to work just for myself. All reasons I now say are the wrong reasons to start a business because these reasons have no other benefit than the benefit for myself. But in order to construct something you need to work with people, and these people will work with you only if your ultimate goal is to leave in society something different ad valuable. That’s why I believe in giving talented people, who share what D1 Milano represents and behave consistently, the opportunity to grow up, and working together toward the same result. In the end, what really matters is not the idea itself, but what you do and why you want to achieve it. And the reasons why we want to achieve it is that we believe in details, in beautiful things and in improving them every day.

How does D1 Milano innovate?  

DARIO SPALLONE: We all know that most of the watch brands are quality-oriented. Our main idea is that quality loses its value if not accompanied by a defined character, an irrational emotion of interest that is aroused on the consumer for no apparent reason. D1 Milano’s one is based on the love for beautiful things, that for us represents innovative materials, details and chromatism. But this is not still enough. We work every day harder to overcome our limits and boundaries with the aim to involve customers in a fun and stimulating experience and add value to their lives through products able to tell a story because we are not luxury, we are quality of the experience.

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

DARIO SPALLONE: When situations like a pandemic happen, the first thing you have to ask yourself is how to react. You can’t avoid the situation, but you can allow it to affect you as least as possible. This means using your existing tools in a new and innovative way and adopting new points of views. We managed to involve customers in fun activities in order to help them overcome the boring days at home; we implemented interesting storytelling to catch their attention and clear communication to reassure them and increase conversion. We also activated a digitalization strategy for our offline partners which allowed us to grow up. At the end of the day, nobody could have known and currently knows how much this pandemic will affect us, but we can work on improving those aspects that will make it better. Example? If the only way to sell is digitally and we have offline partners, the logical solution to look for is to make our offline channel more digital? The hard part is how but this is why we need to test and try every day our limits and try to improve. At the end of the day we cannot choose the cards we play with, but we can, for sure choose how we play them.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

DARIO SPALLONE: The difficult choice is being able to accept situations that can change your life and cohabit with your errors and their consequences. But this is also the starting point for our professional and personal growth. If you take a step back, you must be prepared to take five steps forward, especially because a proactive reaction can transform an unexpected threat into an opportunity, and this can be considered a success. But when you are in these moments, you rationally cannot feel like this, and difficult choices are hard because they are…hard! (Horrowitz says it’s perfectly in his book: the hard things about hard things). So, the difference between somebody who makes good choices in difficult situations and somebody who doesn’t is the fact that you don’t think destructively or negatively, but the fact that at a certain moment in time, you wake up and you tell yourself, ok let’s change things, let’s make it better even if it will be hard and it will take time.

How do you deal with stress and anxiety?

DARIO SPALLONE: My attitude is to tell myself that Panic doesn’t lead you anywhere. Stress and anxiety are all natural feelings, and they should be embraced and accepted. However, they cannot allow you to make decisions based on these feelings; this will naturally end up in disaster if you do so! You should always take time to make decisions in the most objective way possible, asking yourself if you would make the same decision if you were not directly involved in the situation but were just a third-party spectator giving honest feedback.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

DARIO SPALLONE: I would say we collocate ourselves in a hybrid share of the market. Gorilla Watches could be our competitor for the communication strategy, Seiko for the technical components, Bell&Ross for the attention to details, Bamford for the price positioning. But in the end, we don’t compare ourselves with others market actors because our point of difference is in our design soul, in our customer experience and our humble yet ambitious people, and these are things you can’t find in the same way elsewhere.  

Your final thoughts?

DARIO SPALLONE: If we are able to play in the market growing up every day, that means that someone is replying to our call. What I mean is that customers believe in what we do and share our values, and that’s for us the most important thing. It still needs some time, but society is slowly moving toward a real appreciation of quality based on details and experience. 

And this is what we offer.  

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Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at

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