There are two faces that come to mind in the niche world of Saxon watchmaking. On the one hand there’s the classical haute horology of brands like A. Lange & Sohne and Moritz Grossman, clean and traditional. On the other you have the pure Bauhaus minimalism of Nomos Glashutte and more. Tutima on the other hand is a different beast entirely.
The roots of Tutima go all the way back to 1927 when Glashutte first started making the most of their local ore. They were, in fact, one of the very earliest watchmakers based in the sleepy Saxon village come horological hub. They quickly became known for their pilots watches and the technical savvy therein.
Unfortunately, they weren’t there all that long. Something happened in 1945 – I’m sure I don’t need to go into the details of precisely what – that forced Tutima to flee to the new West Germany. They just about escaped falling under the iron curtain and the fate that awaited most of the Glashutte watchmakers beneath it, i.e. being forced to mass-produce substandard watches.
Tutima at least thrived, especially in 1984 when their Tutima Military Chronograph Ref. 798 became the official NATO pilots’ watch. Still, they were evidently homesick. Glashutte was where Tutima belonged after all. That’s why, in 2008, the brand returned to the centre of Saxon watchmaking, seconds from their original factory.
The move coincided with another major development for Tutima: the Grand Classic Alpha. A stunning watch riffing off classic military chronographs, it was nonetheless a big point of difference from the rest of Glashutte, a difference that the watchmaker has thrived on ever since.
The Grand Classic Alpha has since transitioned into the Grand Flieger (bit pilot) collection, which retains the eye-catching bezel and classic chronograph layout. Yet from this mid-point Tutima goes a considerable way in both directions, from the chunky, uncompromisingly masculine tool watch that is the M2 to the pretty Patria and minimal yet colourful Sky.
Not that Tutima has restricted themselves to accessibility of course. Back in 2011 they built the Hommage, the first German minute repeater, a phenomenal piece of horology followed, more recently by the beautiful Tempostopp.
Unveiled in 2017 the Tempostopp was built to celebrate 90 years of Tutima and is still one of the finest modern German chronographs around. It ticks every box: it’s elegant, technically impressive and finished to a degree that even Lange have to tip their hat to. Whether I’d take it over the 1815 Chronograph is debatable, but it’s a far cry from Tutima’s functional aviation origins.
Despite being one of the quieter voices in Saxon watchmaking, Tutima is nonetheless one of the most important. Since they’ve been back in their Glashutte home they’ve shown that there’s not much they can’t do, be that tool watches or minute repeaters. Their take on watchmaking may be diverse and varies, but it’s still very, very German.
Parmigiani will be joining us at the Watchmakers Club event on November the 20th.