Your eyes do not deceive you – this is the second time, in fairly short succession, that we’re talking about the watch brand out of New York, Diefendorff. The last time around, John really took things on the New York angle. Our second look comes from the Second City, and will let you know what a Chicagoan thinks of the Diefendorff Corenelius 1776.
First up, yeah, that’s a mouthful – the Diefendorff Cornelius 1776. That said, I’m glad they gave the watch a name. Sometimes – particularly with the inexpensive big brands – we get just a reference number, and that’s just no way to go through life. Here, I’ve no idea why Cornelius (perhaps some obscure NY reference?), but I do know why the 1776 is there. It’s due to the lines on the bezel of the watch. You’ve got 17 large lines, and then 76 smaller lines. I didn’t count them, so I’m taking the brands word at face value. It’s those lines, however, that had me interested in going hands-on with the watch.
It can be difficult for a new brand to create something that stands out, or just simply catches our eye. With the ripples on the top surface of the Diefendorff Cornelius 1776, my eye was caught. And, as you would expect, they do catch the light. Or, more accurately, the full polish of the rest of the bezel (and case) catches the light, and then the lines scatter it in different direction. It’s a fun lightplay, and when you add in the sunday day and the polished indices and hands, well, you get a lot of interesting things depending on your lighting.
One thing you’ll likely notice is all the smudges and fingerprints the watch will pick up. That’s just part-and-parcel of a highly polished case. I’m all for some polish, but I like alternating surface treatments, and particularly for the top surface to be brushed or blasted, just to keep the watch looking clean (ie, the smudges are there, you just can’t see them). Now, on the Diefendorff Cornelius 1776, a flat finish on the bezel would certainly change things, and I’m not sure if it would be for the better. Just bear in mind you’ll be constantly buffing this case.
The dial of the Diefendorff Cornelius 1776 continues the glossy theme, with the polished applied indices and handset spinning away over the sunday dial (blue, in the case of this loaner). I rather liked the dial (though, for some reason, I kept expecting the 12 o’clock markers to be tritium), and things are appropriately sized. All the polish here makes sense – the brand positions the watch as a dress watch that can go casual. I might argue the point a bit, with the 12.45mm thickness (48mm lug-to-lug), but needless to say, if your cuff will fit it, the watch will do its part. Ours came paired on a thicker black leather strap (fitting to the dimensions of the watch, but again heavier than you might plan for with a dressier watch), but you have the choice between 5 different straps or a mesh bracelet. Likewise, if blue dials aren’t your thing (no judgement, you’re just not correct) then there are also green, charcoal, or carbon fiber available.
As those who follow my Instagram will attest, I wore the Diefendorff Cornelius 1776 over the period of a few weeks, in various situations. The 102g watch was an able companion, and worked as the brand intends, in just about any situation. Just as with a steel dive watch, if you’ve got tight shirt cuffs, you may have some problems. Otherwise, the watch just works. I ended up wearing the watch a bit looser than I like, due to where the holes in the strap are punched, but that is a matter of preference (and strap changes are easy enough to accomplish). Day or night, reading the time was a cinch, and picking out the date (thank you for a dark date disc) was no problem either.
At the end of the day, the $899 Diefendorff Cornelius 1776 is a small, Swiss-powered (Sellita SW-200), American-assembled independent alternative to the diver and military-inspired pieces we more commonly see from new brands. And, frankly, with a 100m WR, you pop this onto the mesh bracelet option, and yeah, you’ve got a watch you can safely swim with as well. Overall, though I felt the watch was a bit thicker and shinier than I would have preferred, it’s not a bad freshman outing from the brand. diefendorffwatches.com
- Brand & Model: Diefendorff Corenelius 1776
- Price: $899
- Who’s it for? You want an independent, small-make watch, but don’t particularly want a diver-style watch
- Would I wear it? In general, sure. But in light of what I own, it’s not one that would be heavily in the rotation
- What I’d change: Play with alternating case finishes, and see about slimming things down
- The best thing about it: It’s an interesting bezel approach, and definitely sets off the lovely dial
Tech Specs from Diefendorff
- Movement: Swiss-made Sellita SW200
- Movement type: Automatic Mechanical
- Lug width: 22 mm
- Case width: 42 mm
- Point of Assembly: USA
- Case material: Stainless Steel (316L)
- Glass (Front): Sapphire Crystal
- Caseback: Sapphire Crystal
- Dial material: Brass
- Dial style:Sunray (Blue)
- Tested water resistance: 10 ATM (330 Feet / 100 Meters)
- Jewels: 26 Power Reserve: 38 hours (approximate)
- Hour / Minute Markers: Luminous
- Hands: Luminous