When Watchuseek team visited the Tutima booth at Baselworld 2019, we had agreed to tour the brand’s manufacturing facilities in Glashütte/Saxony to see the in-house production first hand, and of course view the entire flieger collection. This week, Tutima welcomed us to their modern headquarter located just few meters adjacent to Nomos, and across from Glashütte Original manufactury. In 2008, Tutima relocated their operations from Northwestern Germany to Glashütte.
The first observation is that while Tutima is a mid-size business, right next to other mid-to-large size watch companies, it is a family run operation. In fact, Tutima is 100% family owned and operated. A more obvious observation is that this is not the same watch brand of the 1980’s, 1990’s, and early 2000’s. Tutima was synonymous with sub $3k tool military watches. Only recently they have started to offer sub $3k flieger watches with modified ETA movements. But there is a good justification behind higher price point and developing in-house movements for raising the level of watchmaking. For a company to use “Made in Glashütte” seal, they must create 50% of value of watch in Glashütte. Tutima has done well with the use of in-house movement, especially in Patria watches. The Admiral Blue Patria is sold under $6k and has similar hand finishing as a higher priced watch from Glashütte. Although we predict this pricing may not be sustainable, and will increase in near future since they must hire more watchmakers to meet the demand.
While Tutima has one leg in the realm of fine watchmaking, their other leg is firmly placed in lower to mid-priced fliegers, which are made in a second workshop in Glashütte. After all, Tutima was responsible for the legendary UROFA 59 flyback movement, and the NATO Lémania watches of 1990’s. The current lineup of fliegers is divided like their old catalog – M2 series has several variations of the NATO watches, and Grand Flieger has the more traditional flieger watches inspired by the 1940’s military issued watches.
So, what is different from the M2 series of yesteryear and today? It comes down to movement, size, features, and price. The overall appearance is very much the same, however rest has been supersized. The M2 series start at 43mm and go up to 46mm. The 43mm in titanium with no bezel is still easy to pull off on a 6.5inch wrist. Lémania 5100 movement is no longer in production since it was integrated within the Swatch group. Hence, Tutima uses heavily modified Valjoux 7750 movements for M2 chronographs, and ETA movements for the basic three hand fliegers. M2 watches are protected by titanium case pressure-proofed to 30 atm, including a strong sapphire crystal coated with anti-reflective treatment and an additional casing of mu-metal. This nickel-iron alloy binds magnetic field streams so that they do not even reach the movement. The integrated push buttons are furnished with grooved neoprene inlays. Due to higher manufacturing costs the prices have doubled compared to the previous M2 series. To be fair, Tutima has made some adjustments in their pricing in the past couple of years, and now a three hand M2 is priced under $2k.
The Grand Flieger series takes its design cues from the predecessor with the round stainless steel case with rotating bezel and reference marker, the reserved typography of the matte black dial paired with contemporary luminous hands, as well as the pilot style leather strap. However, the Grand Flieger with its diameter of 43 mm is much larger in dimension than the original and is, of course, outfitted with a modified Valjoux or ETA movement, which can be viewed through the transparent case back. Grand Flieger Classic in more representative of typical vintage look that includes a fluted bezel. Grand Flieger Airport watches have a more modern interpretation with a smooth rotating bezel and 60-minute divisions. The new Grand Flieger Automatic are currently Watchuseek favorite with Black, Grey, Olive, and the most popular, Green dial. All timepieces in the Grand Flieger lineup are water-resistant to 20 atm and have a screw-in crown. All flieger watches are finished according to the rules of the Glashütte art of watchmaking with a rotor decorated with gold Tutima seal.
We are certain that the new chapter for Tutima’s return to Glashütte is going be a successful one given the accomplishments made in a short period. For us that success will be defined not only by fine watchmaking, it will be defined when Tutima reunites flyback chronograph caliber 659 (old UROFA 59 movement) in a flieger again.