Exploring two incredibly functional tool watches from the Tutima Glashütte M2 Collection...
The origins of Tutima can be traced back to the joining of two companies in 1927, Uhren-Rohwerke-Fabrik Glashütte AG and Uhrenfabrik Glashütte AG. At the time, the MD of both organisations was Dr. Ernst Kurtz, and he is credited as one of the early pioneers recognising that the future of personal watches would be those worn on the wrist. The newly created brand was given the name “Tutima”, derived from the Latin Tutus, meaning “safe and secure.”
Wristwatches soon became must-have technical accessories for early motor car drivers and pilots who valued the ability to read time with the twist of a wrist. Such activities also spawned a new genre of watches which were precise and could withstand more stress than traditional pocket watches.
By 1941 Tutima had created their famous WW2 Luftwaffe Pilots Flieger chronograph. However, the very same conflict almost brought about the demise of the company when an Allied air raid destroyed the factory and soon after that region of Germany fell under Russian control.
The brand did survive and decades later when the Iron Curtain fell and Germany reunited, the CEO Dieter Delecate hatched a plan to move Tutima back to its spiritual home in Glashütte. As the new millennium began, the dream was realised.
Today Tutima Glashütte/SA is firmly established as one of Germany’s more respected watch brands producing high end time pieces with seven principal ranges in their current collection. These cover an eclectic spectrum from pure dress watches retailing at hundreds of thousands of Pounds to more modestly priced essential equipment for international travellers and pure military specification chronographs.
The M2 Watch Range
One of the ranges in Tutima’s portfolio is the M2. In their own words the M2 represents: “Uncompromising functionality and absolute reliability…the basic principles of a professional timing instrument.”
To solidify this position in 1984 the German Air Force officially adopted an M2 NATO variant as the standard issue watch for fast jet pilots.
The M2 range is synonymous with high legibility, reliability, user comfort and multi-environment resistance. There are three models. The M2 Chronograph, the M2 Seven Seas, and the M2 Coastline. All are protected by a brushed titanium case pressure-proofed to at least 300m, topped off with anti-reflective sapphire crystal. We had on test an M2 Chronograph and an M2 Seven Seas.
The M2 Chronograph – What It Does
The supremely legible 46.1mm M2 Chronograph provides a date display, with conventional hours, minutes, and seconds. Bold white indices are perfectly offset against a black velvet dial. The chronograph offers a 60-second counter, 60-minute counter and 12-hour counter with an additional 24-hour display. The minute counter is not a sub dial, as is commonly found with chronographs, but a full size fourth second hand with a stylised aircraft design to differentiate it from the sweep second counter.
The M2 watch is powered by a highly capable automatic Tutima Calibre 521 in-house movement which is in every measurable way a clone of the iconic, and very collectable, circa 1974 Lemania 5100 movement. Universally regarded as one of the better shockproof chrono-movements, and a principal rival to the venerable Valjoux 7750, the 5100 design ticked all the boxes for the intended aviation use of the M2. The resulting dial has multiple functions but thanks to superior design it never looks cluttered. The 521 offers a reasonable 48-hour power reserve.
The M2 Chronograph is not small at 16mm in height, but the weight is a manageable 128g. This is thanks to the titanium case. Had construction been steel it would have definitely felt top heavy. In addition to the range standard specifications the M2 Chronograph has an additional inner casing of a nickel-iron alloy which binds magnetic field streams so that they do not reach the movement.
The strap options are a titanium bracelet or Kevlar fabric strap. We did not have the bracelet variant to test. There is a titanium deployment clasp which doubles as the adjustor to make the strap longer or shorter.
The M2 Chronograph feels and looks like a large watch so will not suit those with a slim wrist, but if you can absorb the mass it undeniably has a very functional look and you genuinely get the impression that it could cope with any extreme situation.
The high build quality is immediately apparent and is typified by the significant and audible “clunk” when you initiate the chronograph function. The neoprene coated pushers are a superb design which frankly beat all other such devises in the class and are exceptionally easy to operate with gloves on. Conversely the screw-down crown is less accessible when fully closed and requires a fingertip grip to engage.
Things We Would Change On The M2
The Kevlar strap and deployment clasp are the only elements where, under testing, some issues appeared. The strap is a very stiff material. So much so that it did not flex round the wrist particularly well. It had to be worn tight to keep the bulky watch from revolving, and this requirement highlighted an additional glitch. The deployment clasp is quite uncomfortable under the wrist. No doubt it is a clever design, but technical capability may have taken precedence over user comfort. Once closed the clasp has two sharp metal protrusions which cut into the wrist to the extent that I struggled to wear the watch for a full day. The problem is compounded by the fact that the M2 strap, and its attachment points to the case, are propriety preventing the fit of an alternative strap.
The M2 Seven Seas
Although part of the M2 series the Seven Seas is a fundamentally different creature to the Chronograph. It shares the same basic construction characteristics such as the matt titanium case and Kevlar strap but at this point any watch similarity ceases.
The M2 Seven Seas – What It Does
With a 44mm x 13mm titanium case the M2 Seven Seas is a more subtle package than its aviation sibling. Pressure tested to 500m it is a pure sub or surface ocean going watch and is more compact than other similarly capable watches on the market. It thankfully bucks the misleading trend in the watch industry that weight signifies quality. Indeed, quite the opposite is often the truth. To be able to make a 500m water resistant watch in a slim and neat yet ultra-strong package is the true sign of quality.
In the case of the test model the dial colour was listed as “Deep Blue” and was the paragon of legibility with an almost flawless design. Floating white hands blend well with bold white indices, both of which glow green in low light. The hands and the bezel dot have a more intense lume application than the indices. The hands and hour markers seem the perfect size and the dynamics of the dial are aesthetically pleasing. The only sacrifice to colour is a bright red second hand which stretches over the rehaut flange. The day and date windows are subtle due to their data being presented on a black background. Other then the manufacturers name the only text is a small 50ATM mark which subtly hints at the latent capability of the watch. The matching titanium bezel is rotatable in only one direction.
Beneath the screw case back, with its engraved majestic rigged tall ship logo, beats a Tutima Calibre T330. This is a self-winding movement using an ETA 2836-2 Elaboré as a base and has been modified with a branded Tutima rotor in antique grey with a 750 gold “T” seal. The original base has a minimum of a 38-hour power reserve.
At a mere 96g the Seven Seas is a neat package which really masks its capability. It is one of the most legible faces you will find on a watch with the indices having a 3D quality. There is a raised lume section in each hour marker which adds to the texture of the dial. The Deep Blue face has the same velvet quality as the black M2 Chronograph dial, and this adds greatly to the anti-reflective quality of the watch. Combined with the treated sapphire crystal it looks like the lens is missing, so effective is the combination of elements. The crown is well protected and is much more accessible than the design of the M2 Chronograph.
The Seven Seas comes on exactly the same strap as the previously analysed M2 Chronograph. It also has the same deployment clasp.
Things We Would Change On The M2 Seven Seas
As far as the watch itself goes we would change nothing. This design is a class act when compared to similar ocean going/ diving watches which can be rather generic. It is one of those rare watches which is a completely unique in design and begs you to look at on a regular basis. However, we cannot ignore the Kevlar strap and clasp and the same technical issues were apparent as found on the Chronograph, all be it less so due to the much lower mass of this watch. The strap looks really good on the Seven Seas and the fabric style suits its diver heritage – it just needs a rework. The sharp clasp would probably be less of an issue if the watch is worn over a wet suit, but the design is definitely something Tutima should look at when the M2 next evolves.
Final Thoughts on the M2 Chronograph and Seven Seas
On first sight the M2 Chronograph is a visually impressive watch, and the dial typifies how to present a great deal of information in a clear and instantly legible way. It is small wonder that NATO accepted the watch for pilots.
The Seven Seas is almost the complete antithesis, presenting the bare minimum of data but equally nailing the dial design to be 100% user friendly.
Testing these watches at home is a real privileged. You can place them next to other comparable models in your collection and I would honestly struggle to say that some very well-known competitors had better dials.
However, considering the M2 Chronograph costs around £4000, and the Seven Seas is £1400, it is a shame that such capable products are let down by a weak Kevlar strap and deployment clasp; a part which is so critical to the overall design of a watch. In their defence, Tutima cannot boast any exclusivity on this omission as strap design is an element often overlooked by many major brands. I want to stress that we did not have access to the titanium bracelets which also come as options for these two watches. If they are designed with the case of the titanium cases, then I am sure they will be very capable and comfortable straps.
Many thanks to the UK manager of Tutima for the loan of the watches.
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