An interview with Ute Delecate, Tutima

During Baselworld 2018, Angus Davies arranged an interview with Ute Delecate, Tutima. During this meeting, Dieter Delecate, the brand’s owner, joined the interview and provided additional insight about the firm he has controlled since the 1960s.

Tutima, the German watch company based in Glashütte, is synonymous with pilots’ watches. During an interview with Ute Delecate, Tutima, the company’s Director PR and Marketing, much was revealed about the brand’s history, its return to Saxony, making high-end watches and its pride in being a family business.

Interview with Ute Delecate, Tutima

Ute Delecate

Nestling in Glashütte, near the town’s railway station, is the highly-regarded company, Tutima. Founded in 1927, this German firm has become synonymous with pilots’ watches. The robust construction and notable reliability make the brand’s watches ideal for military use.  Indeed, in 1984, the Tutima Military Chronograph ref.798 was voted the official pilot’s watch of NATO. Tutima continues to supply the military sector with its watches and provides on-going servicing at its impressive facility.

Inspecting a Tutima watch with a critical index finger reveals impressive build quality. Several models are delivered in sturdy titanium cases. Various models display merely the time, while others are equipped with a chronograph. However, one attribute is common to all Tutima timepieces, namely value for money.

When Tutima moved back to its ancestral home of Glashütte it chose to fanfare its expertise with the release of a minute repeater. This high-end complication would challenge the most accomplished watchmaker. It was therefore very impressive that the German brand chose to undertake this task and face the protracted efforts needed to realise this dream. The Tutima Glashütte Hommage Minute Repeater remains a wonderful exemplar of fine watchmaking and showcases the brand’s incredible technical expertise.

Interview with Ute Delecate, Tutima

Tutima Glashütte Hommage Minute Repeater

When presented with the opportunity to interview Ute Delecate, I gladly accepted. I was eager to learn more about this interesting company. Surprisingly, whilst interviewing Ute, her father, Dieter, joined the meeting and helpfully contributed to our conversation.

Interview with Ute Delecate (UD) and Dieter Delecate by Angus Davies (AD)

AD: What do you think makes Tutima special?

UD: Upholding Glashütte’s traditions, our close ties to aviation, making professional watches and being a family business.

Expanding on this, when I say Glashütte’s traditions I am referring to our history. The brand was founded by Dr Kurtz in 1927. He was a very far-sighted entrepreneur, building wristwatches independent of the Swiss watchmaking industry. His idea was to move away from pocket watches and focus on wristwatches. In the 1940s he was responsible for the UROFA Calibre 59, the basis for the Flieger Chronograph which has since become a legend. Tutima is Glashütte.

Interview with Ute Delecate, Tutima

 UROFA Calibre 59

AD: Tutima offer aggressively priced watches, such as the Saxon chronograph, while also offering some very high-end watches, such as the Patria and Tempostopp. Can you explain the reason for this and will there be other high-end watches in the future?

DD: Tutima is well known for pilots’ watches. This is our business.

The high-end watches started with the creation of a minute repeater. Our technicians had this idea and we said ok, let’s see if we can do it. The minute repeater was made to celebrate Tutima returning to Glashütte. It had a very nice case and a very nice movement.

Thereafter, we made a three-hand watch with a movement based on the design of the minute repeater’s movement. The case was almost the same.

We then made a reproduction of the 1940s chronograiph movement which we incorporated into the Tempostopp, a model we launched at Baselworld 2017.

Interview with Ute Delecate, Tutima

Tutima Glashütte Tempostopp

The high-end products provide a halo effect for our regular watches. It shows what we are capable of. The Tempostopp was created to celebrate our 90th anniversary. I don’t know what we will do for our 100th anniversary!

Our regular watches remain our core business and that is what we are focussing upon. We have no immediate plans to release another high-end watch.

AD: Your company has strong ties to aviation. It sponsors the Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety and you have partnered with the German Aero Club. However, I note you also have the Tutima Racing Yacht. Does this mean that the company will offer maritime-influenced products such as marine chronometers?

UD: Our heritage is aviation, however, a watch designed for aviation is also very useful for sports on water. We make very functional, robust watches which are suitable for professional use.

Interview with Ute Delecate, Tutima

Tutima Racing Yacht

The Tutima Racing Yacht is a very successful ladies team. The team members don’t wear ladies’ watches, they wear our sports watches which are ideal for racing. However, our company does offer a range of ladies’ watches.

AD: The company was founded by Dr. Ernst Kurtz in 1927. As I understand it, your family assumed control of Tutima in the 1960s. During your time running Tutima, what do you think has been your greatest achievement?

DD: Bringing Tutima back to Glashütte. It was a dream of Dr. Kurtz who founded Tutima. When he was in North Germany, he always talked about this.

Interview with Ute Delecate, Tutima

Dieter Delecate

AD: The design of your Manufacture in Glashütte is very interesting. Did you have much input on the style of the building?

Interview with Ute Delecate, Tutima

Tutima Manufacture, Glashütte

DD: It was formerly a railway building. It was listed; hence we were restricted on what we could do. However, inside the building we had much more freedom. Everything inside was new. There is more space than it first appears because we have a basement where we have various machines, including CNC machines.

AD: Clearly, Tutima is a family business. Are there any other family members working at Tutima?

UD: I have two brothers, Jörg and Mark who also work for the company. My brothers and I were brought up with the company and its Glashütte spirit. I hope the next generation perpetuates our family’s involvement with Tutima

Closing remarks

Clearly Tutima is a brand which is defined by its sense of place, namely, Glashütte. The small town has a rich history of making watches and is regarded as the epicentre of German watchmaking. After the fall of the ‘Iron Curtain’, this German company returned to its ancestral home and now operates from a modern atelier, a fact it is justly proud of.

Tutima’s rich history of making pilots’ watches continues to influence the brand’s collection of models today. The supply of aviation watches, both to the military and civilian sectors, is the German marque’s core business and, based on my conversation with Ute and Dieter, it will remain the brand’s core strategy.

This German company avoids gimmicks and fleeting fashion. Instead it chooses to deliver robustness, reliability and value. These are desirable traits which the brand’s products freely exhibit and are likely to appeal to many watch collectors.

Part of the Tutima paradigm is that it remains a family business. I found Ute Delecate and her father to be charming. I hope their business continues to flourish and, in years to come, that a new generation of this family appreciate the appeal of aviation watches and steer the firm to new heights.

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