Watches

A Flight-Inspired Chronograph From a Brand That Should Be on Your Radar

If you're unfamiliar with Glashütte-based Tutima, it's time to change that.
IMAGE Tutima
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There are few areas known for watchmaking that have suffered more from shifting geopolitical sands than the German watchmaking city of Glashütte. Founded in the middle of the 19th century by Ferdinand Lange, a network of high-end makers quickly earned a reputation for pocket watches considered amongst the finest in the industry. Two world wars took their toll in different ways—and then the Cold War more or less killed Glashütte off altogether. That there is an industry there at all now is down to a handful of people who, in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin wall, began to reimagine a watchmaking epicenter that in its glory days—in quality if not in scale—rivaled the best that Swiss watchmaking could offer.

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Tutima is one brand you may not even have heard of—it doesn't get as much attention as Lange & Sohne, Glashütte, and Nomos. But because of that it enjoys best-kept-secret status (Tutima only became available in the U.S. in 1996) with prices that belie its heritage and its expertise.

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M2 Coastline Chronograph 6430-03, Tutima, tutima.com

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The Tutima M2 Coastline Chronograph that debuted recently is a testament to the determination of one man who has been working at the German brand for a staggering 66 years. Still CEO at the age of 85, Dieter Delecate walked into a job aged 19 in 1954 thanks to Tutima’s original founder Ernst Kurtz. When the Iron Curtain had descended, leaving Glashütte on the wrong side of it, Kurtz had headed west before restarting production in 1951 in Lower Saxony, far to the northwest in the newly named West Germany. This was Kurtz's second attempt at reinvention. He had founded Tutima in 1927 as part of an initiative to restart the industry in Glashütte after post-World War 1 reparations to the victors had sent the German economy into hyperinflation.

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The M2 Coastline Chronograph on the wrist.

The M2 is a very modern watch, though its DNA derives directly from one of Delecate’s crowning achievements from the early 1980s, a now-collectable rugged “NATO” pilot’s watch that won a lucrative contract to supply West German Airforce Pilots from 1985. It was this that allowed Tutima to ride out the quartz revolution with success, and when it was sold to the public it predated by several years the explosion of interest in military instrument watches in the '90s.

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The 2020 version of the NATO boasts the same low-profile chrono buttons and lugless case as the original Flieger Chronograph, but the Caliber 310 automatic movement with 48-hour power reserve is all new. The production model comes on a titanium bracelet to match the case or a tan calf strap with a choice of black or blue dial, and carries a date window at 3 o’clock. All in all that’s a lot of detail—and a lot of history—for a $3,300 watch.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Nick Sullivan
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