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Review: Tutima Chronograph FX UTC [7/14/03]
On July 14, 2003
Ref. 740-54 (white)
History and Background
On the outbreak of World War I, the market for expensive precision watches collapsed virtually overnight. A decade of turbulence and upheaval was to follow. In 1926, the situation in Glashuette was desolate. In December 1926 Uhren-Rohwerke-Fabrik Glashütte AG – UROFA – and Uhrenfabrik Glashütte AG – UFAG were set up, headed by attorney Dr. Ernst Kurtz. Apart from the initial production of superior quality pocket-watches, under the management of Mr. Kurtz and a few competent associates, the companies developed and produced their own ebauches for wristwatches. The top quality models were entitled “Tutima”, a brand name chosen with good reason. The founders had derived the name from the Latin adjective “tutus”, which translates as “safe” or “protected”. The product quality and the distribution exclusively through selected dealers soon earned Tutima an excellent reputation. Back then UROFA-UFAG had some 1000 employees.
On May 8, 1945, just hours away from the cease-fire of WWII, Russian bombers wreaked havoc over Glashuette, severely damaging the metropolis of German watchmaking skills. Under the East German government, the factories were later merged into a state-owned combined production plant and the famous Glashuette trade names vanished from the face of the watches. Tutima, however, survived and found a new domicile in West Germany. Coincidence or not: Dr. Ernst Kurtz, successful head of UROFA and UFAG, had packed his belongings and left Glashuette just one day before the terrible bombings. In 1951, the company moved to Ganderkesee in Lower Saxony. Together with former Glashuette employees, Kurtz picked up where previous developments had left off. The inscription “Kurtz Glashütter Tradition” on the dials unequivocally announced their intention of maintaining the watchmaking standards of the past.
The FX line comprises a broad range of models that vary from simple hours, minutes, seconds, day-date to the more complicated Chronograph UTC. First announced for the Basel show in 2001, all FX models are now finally available with black and silver dials. The variety gets even broader as all models are available with various bezels: plain brushed finish or bi-directionally rotating 24h or 60 minute countdown partition.
The roughly 50 employees of Tutima create precise timepieces mostly housed in stainless steel cases and driven by ETA based movements. There is little known about the work Tutima does on their movements. The company distributes no press information on the modules used or finish done. In general, the company’s attitude towards outbound communication could be best described as ‘Nordic’. Producing their watches in Ganderkesee in the vicinity of the North-German city of Bremen, Tutima certainly takes a local exception to the German watch industry that is mainly based around Glashuette and Pforzheim.
Case, Crown, Pushers and Crystal
Over 150 grams of brushed stainless steel; the element this clearly technocratic watch is made out of. Part of this hefty weight certainly goes to the stainless steel bracelet which is further discussed below, yet the entire appearance of the watch is probably not best described as ‘light’ anyway.
Dial and Hands
We are basically talking about two different watches here. The black faced and the white dial Tutima FX line. Out of sheer personal preference I chose to have a closer look at the white face version. First introduced at the shows in 2001, the white Tutima Chronograph FX UTC was spooking around in watch magazines for two years. It was the same picture again and again that cached the reader’s attention. I was told by a Tutima representative that it was taken from the first prototype. It had a plain white face that almost looked like an enamel dial. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed when I learned that the final version would have a silvery finish instead of the spotless white. That was when I first saw the watch in person at the 2003 Inhorgenta show in Munich. All in all, though, I still think that the white version of this watch is an extraordinary attractive candidate in the not so wide field of ultra-sporty chronographs with white dials.
I wish Tutima would provide the world, respectively Timezone, with more details about the movement. Well of course, it is based on the omnipresent Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement from ETA. But the again, somebody needs to add the second timezone module. I am almost embarrassed that I couldn’t find out more about the inside of the watch. Just opening up the case back wouldn’t help as the second timezone module of course sits on the dial-side. This way, it is even up to speculation what exactly the refinish looks like that Tutima applies to the ETA base movement. Is it limited to engraving the company name on the rotor? Or are they completely disassembling all parts and give them a higher grade finish plus some cosmetic mark-up like Geneva stripes and blued screws? Questions yet to be resolved. In the meantime, we could just dwell on Walt Odets’ brilliant analysis of the Valjoux 7750 itself. Please have a look at his detailed article in the Horologium.
After a couple of days of dispersion of the oils, the FXC UTC ran at absolutely satisfactory preciseness. The last days I checked, it stayed within COSC specifications, mostly running at about + 1-4 seconds a day, regardless of the chronograph function running or not.
Below, two pictures of the Tutima version of the 7760 and the 2892.
Bracelet and Clasp, Box(es)
It is difficult to find a really good stainless steel bracelet and as such, the grade ‘good’ is to be understood as high praise. The bracelet of the Tutima FX line is ‘good’ in every sense. With regard to the style I would even dare say that it belongs to the nicest in the market (in the utilitarian class). Starting from solid end links that fit tight between the lugs, an even floating band of completely brushed links smoothly nestles around the wrist. The links have just the right size and add to the wonderful wearing comfort. The length is easily adjustable with screw pins and a spring bar fine adjustment in the clasp. The only thing I could complain about is what I call side-clearance. If you ever handled an X-71 bracelet made by Blancpain, you know what I am talking about (I am sure there is others out there that I haven’t touched yet). The test is to put down the watch in crown down position on a flat surface with a fully stretched out bracelet as if the watch would sit on the wrist. If the bracelet doesn’t show any vertical bend caused by gravity, it passed the X-71 test. The Tutima bracelet fails (as much as for example the Rolex president bracelet would fail this really harsh test).
When I first saw a picture of the white dial version of the Tutima Chronograph FX UTC in the wrist watch annual 2001, I fell in love with this watch and knew that I wanted to get one as soon as they would become available. The watch came out two years later and what I assumed to be a truly white dial turned out to have a silvery finish. That initial disappointment was soon overcome by the overall quality, design, functionality and finish of the watch. Tutima asked Timezone not to publish any prices, yet I can say that the price is certainly very competitive and thus, I think it is a lot of watch you get for your money when buying a Chronograph FX UTC.
There are a few details that are really fun about this watch. Certainly its perfect functionality for the modern frequent flyer or barbecue master (timing the burgers) is one of them. However, little things like the wonderful chrono second hand, the amply proportioned crown and again and again the top of the line dial print with all its detail and thick glance could make this watch grow on you more than you might expect from first sight.