Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Automatic
The Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Automatic incorporates some of the design elements first seen on the brand’s legendary chronograph of 1941. However, this watch forgoes a stopwatch function, instead incorporating a day-date display. Furthermore, the German firm has infused the Grand Flieger Classic Automatic with a hint of modernity, equipping it with a brown sunray dial and an exhibition caseback. Angus Davies gets ‘hands-on’ with this handsome watch and imparts his opinions about its impressive composition.
Tutima, the German watch brand, can trace its origins to 1927 when two companies, Uhren-Rohwerke-Fabrik Glashütte AG (UROFA) and Uhrenfabrik Glashütte AG, known simply as UFAG, were founded. Both of these firms were run by Dr. Ernst Kurtz.
Kurtz was blessed with great foresight and recognised that the popularity of wristwatches would grow at the expense of pocket watches. He was eager to convey the reliability and robustness of his watches and chose the name, ‘Tutima’, a Latin word, meaning ‘safe, secure’.
Based in the watchmaking enclave of Glashütte, Tutima soon became known for its pilots’ watches, a reputation which continues to endure to this day. During World War II, UROFA-UFAG was tasked with making the legendary Flieger Chronograph for the German Luftwaffe. Between 1941 and 1945, Kurtz’s firm produced 30,000 pilots’ watches, each equipped with the iconic UROFA 59 calibre.
These timepieces had to be reliable, robust and precise. Indeed, they were often used as navigational tools. Today, while few wearers use this genre of watch for navigating the skies, the qualities of peerless legibility, durability and accuracy remain relevant. Moreover, many would-be buyers appreciate the masculine, no-nonsense aesthetics these watches possess.
Towards the end of World War II, Kurtz, mindful of the advancing Russian forces, fled to the West. He perpetuated the Tutima name by establishing a watchmaking facility in Memmelsdorf and then subsequently Ganderkesee near Bremen. Both of these factories were located in regions, formerly part of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Tutima ceased trading in 1959, however, Dieter Delecate, a former employee of Kurtz revived the company’s brand name the following year. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), it was perhaps inevitable that Tutima would return to its spiritual home, Glashütte. The company inaugurated its facility in May 2011 and the town in Saxony, the epicentre of German watchmaking, has played host to the firm ever since.
To this day, Tutima continues to make pilots’ watches for the German military. However, the company will always remain known for the ‘Flieger’ chronograph of 1941.
While the Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Automatic 6102-03 eschews the stopwatch function of the iconic 1941 chronograph, it still incorporates period details such as a bidirectional rotating bezel, a red reference marker and poire squelette hands.
The original ‘Flieger’ was always a utilitarian object, intended to fulfil a professional role rather than look overtly handsome. However, the present-day Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Automatic 6102-03, with its rich, tobacco brown dial proves incredibly handsome. Moreover, a sunray motif, emanating from the centre of the dial, surpasses the serviceable and imbues the dial with a becoming quotient of style.
The aforementioned poire squelette hour and minute hands efficiently convey meaning. Their prowess for lucidly imparting information was relevant in 1941 and remains so today. Each hour is marked with crisp, white Arabic numerals. Everything is clearly expressed.
Tutima repeatedly employs design elements found on the ‘Flieger’ chronograph of 1941. The central sweep seconds hand is supremely slender, features a neat counterweight and subscribes to the same styling of its wartime antecedent. The minute track frames the periphery of the dial and proves very useful when reading-off the minutes and running seconds.
Two apertures at 3 o’clock, positioned side by side, reveal the day and date. This represents a significant departure from the design of the 1941 classic, but the indications wonderfully coalesce with the rest of the dial design.
The 43mm stainless steel case feels substantial, both in terms of scale and the quality of its construction. While the height of 13mm could not be described as ‘ultra-thin’, the watch does not feel cumbersome or unduly protrude from the wrist.
The caseband and upper lug surfaces are satin-finished, typical of a former military issue watch. However, the fluted bezel and underside of the lugs are highly polished. In addition, the caseback incorporates a circlet of gleaming brightwork. These latter examples of sparkling vivaciousness may be at odds with the remit the brand once received from the Luftwaffe, but actually they work surprisingly well and infuse the watch with a notable degree of style.
While some period pilots’ watches feature oversized crowns, the Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Automatic is equipped with a modestly proportioned crown by comparison. It proves simple to manipulate but does not mar wearer comfort.
Like many watch collectors, I resist exploring each contour of a timepiece with an outstretched index finger. A well developed sense of touch proves invaluable when appraising a timepiece. The bidirectional bezel upholds one of the specification details found on the previously mentioned 1941 chronograph. The crisp fluting is not sharp but remains beautifully defined, proffering grip when rotating the bezel and granting a tactile delight which is likely to engender a lasting fondness. A red reference marker on the bezel again perpetuates the legend of the 1941 classic.
Tutima has chosen to embrace modernity, equipping this timepiece with an exhibition caseback. The watch is water resistant up to a depth of 20atm (200 metres). In addition, the watch is supplied on a tan coloured leather strap, paired with an impressive folding clasp. Indeed, the clasp feels supremely robust and affixes the watch steadfastly to the wrist.
The Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Automatic, as its name implies, incorporates a self-winding movement. The Calibre Tutima 330 is based on the ETA 2836-2, but features a Tutima-branded oscillating weight adorned with the brand’s golden seal. While many individuals obsess about Manufacture movements, I see little wrong with using an ETA movement. Indeed, they are ultra-reliable, robust and represent good value for money. Bearing in mind the low asking price of this watch, the decision to use an ETA movement seems eminently sensible.
The Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Automatic 6102-03 is modestly priced, costing £1690 (RRP as at 8.8.2019. As you have no doubt been able to ascertain by now, it possesses many attributes. However, based on its low price tag, it is not realistic to expect Glashütte ribbing, anglage and thermally blued screws. The movement may look a tad industrial but this is only to be expected.
The balance has a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement incorporates 25 jewels. The Calibre Tutima 330 incorporates ETA’s ETACHRON regulator system which adjusts the effective length of the hairspring and, by default, the rate of the watch. Tutima state the watch has a power reserve of 38 hours when the mainspring is fully wound.
Tutima has cleverly respected the past, indulging the wishes of traditionalists, but incorporated sublime soupçons of modernity. The hue of the dial and its accompanying sunray pattern imbue the watch with a notable degree of polish. The hands and day-date indications are effortlessly simple to read.
Appraising the case at close quarters, one can readily discern a reassuring sense of quality. Indeed, as I struggle to think of alternative synonyms for ‘quality’, the word repeatedly comes to the fore. This may be one of the most affordable watches I have worn in a while, but it nonetheless remains hugely impressive.
At the heart of Tutima’s paradigm is the notion of ‘reliability’ and the fitment of the Cal. Tutima 330 / ETA 2836-2 will serve only to perpetuate this reputation.
When describing some luxury products made in Germany, journalists often use the phrase ‘Teutonic excellence’. However, when it comes to describing the Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Automatic 6102-03, it seems more appropriate to make reference to the town the brand calls home and thereby the phrase ‘horological virtue from Glashütte’ seems more befitting.
- Model: Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Automatic
- Reference: 6102-03
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 43mm; height 13mm; water resistance 20ATM (200 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and sapphire caseback
- Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds; day and date
- Movement: Calibre Tutima 330; automatic movement; 25 jewels; power reserve 38 hours
- Strap: Tan leather strap, paired with steel folding clasp
- Price: £1,690 (RRP as at 8.8.2019)