Most of the world’s collection of historical military pilot watches was produced in Glashutte in Germany, during World War II. Many people by Tutima seem to start more or less on commercial aviation watches. Many of their antique models need a keen eye to find that they just say “Glashutte” dialing, with little Tutima “T”. Today, Tutima continues to make professional-themed pilots and aviation watches, the Tutima Flutter Classic Chronograph 6402 is the most modern model of the watch.
Flieger (pilot) watches continue to be so popular for a few reasons. First is the tendency for these watches to exude “purpose.” Legibility ranks very high on their list of priorities, as does wearing comfort and durability. In my opinion, pilot-style and diving-style watches together probably represent the most popular types of timepieces sold today. This is, of course, despite the fact that few people who wear these watches are actually taking them into the air (as an aviator) or under the water.
A few years ago, Tutima reshaped itself, and with that came the reference 6402-01 (leather strap) and 6402-02 (steel bracelet) Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Chronograph models. Note that Tutima also produces the 6102 Grand Flieger Classic Automatic watches which eschew the chronograph complication for a day/date indicator on the three-hand dial. Larger and a bit more visually bold than actually more classic models, today’s Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Chronograph watches are mid-range priced for Tutima, and offer aficionados a lot of modern features in addition to a handsome historic look.
Several years ago, I reviewed the Tutima Grand Classic Power Reserve watch here, which I would consider to be a modern ancestor of this 6402 Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Chronograph. Not too much has changed, and you can see that Tutima is evolving a core look that many collectors value. That look begins with hands which say “vintage tool watch.” I don’t know if these traditional-style hands began on aviator watches, but you see them often represented in historic tool watches for a few good reasons. First, they offer a lot of space to paint luminant so that you can read the time in the dark. Next, they are reasonably legible. Finally, the hour and minute hands are visually distinct, which further increases readability.
While somewhat cut off by the chronograph subdials, the dial is also given a full ring of purposeful-looking Arabic numeral hour markers. With this 6402 version of this classic pilot watch, Tutima decided to go for a flatter dial. Others had more raised, applied hour markers. Visual distinction is provided through different textures and shades. For example, most of the face is a matte dark gray, whereas the two chronograph subdials are a deeper black with a slightly different texture.
Red accent colors are also an important style cue, and the color is thankfully used rather sparingly. Red is used on the dial for the chronograph seconds hand and minute hand, but not the chronograph hour hand. I am sure there is a good reason for that, but typically when it comes to color coding hands, the hands for the time are one color, and the chronograph hands are another. Thus, while it probably aesthetically looks better the way Tutima rendered the dial of the Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Chronograph, my OCD tells me that the chronograph hour counter hand should also be red.
Red is further used for the “0 marker” on the bi-directional rotating coin-edged bezel. Tutima continues the tradition of making this somewhat archaic style of rotating bezel. I say archaic as they only have a single reference point (the red mark), and are thus theoretically less useful than a rotating bezel on, say, a dive-style watch that has more markers. The bezel has a pleasant, fluid operation to it. I don’t think many people will use it, but it is a nice extra to play with.
The overall dial design is classic but veers just enough from the norm to be considered different. As I said, Tutima dutifully used traditional elements such as familiar hands and hour makers, along with the overall core look of the watch. But the contrasting subdials that overlap on the hour markers a bit are a more modern design element. Also notice that, akin to other modern Tutima watches the running seconds subdial is small and de-emphasized. This creates the look of a two-subdial chronograph watch (which itself is a bit more classic than three subdials). The dial also has a relatively non-distracting date window, which is fittingly given a dark-colored disc to match the dial.
On the wrist, the Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Chronograph is extremely comfortable and the case is made very well. In steel, the case is 43mm wide, 16mm thick, and durable with 200 meters of water resistance (crown screws in). Over the dial is a domed AR-coated sapphire crystal, and over the rear of the case is an exhibition caseback window. The case wears a bit larger than 43mm given the thickness as well as the prominent spacing of the lugs to accommodate a nice, wide strap or bracelet. Most of the case is brushed, and the finishing is excellent, on par which what you would expect from a modern German tool watch in steel at this price.
The 6402-01 version of the Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Chronograph comes on a very handsome black leather pilot-style strap with white contrast stitching. This will look good on most people, but I encourage people to opt for the matching seven-link “bead-style” steel bracelet. These are less common to find on watches today, and Tutima is among the only brands to keep offering them. I call these bead-style because the small links look like small soft steel beads – and they feel that way to the touch.
These bracelets are very comfortable as they have more axis points than most other bracelet given the small size of the links. They also have a unique, classically masculine look to them, which is what a lot of guys want when wearing tool watches that they subliminally hope will not come across as male jewelry. Better yet, Tutima charges only $400 more for the steel bracelet. I recommend getting the Grand Flieger on the bracelet, and if you later want a strap you can add that to your collection as well.
While Tutima does produce their own “made in Glashütte” in-house mechanical movements, pieces like the Grand Flieger contain base Swiss ETA movements. I don’t find anything wrong with that, but I will say that I think some customers might finding the pricing closer to that of a watch with an in-house movement, versus that of one with a sourced movement. Taking the Tutima M2 collection as a reference (which does contain an in-house-made movement), the price premium is only about $1,000 for in-house versus non-in-house. In my opinion, the Tutima watches without in-house movements might benefit from being a bit more aggressively priced given typical consumer sentiments.
With that said, it isn’t as though Tutima just plops in a stock ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph and labels it their caliber 320 movement. Rather, Tutima is famed for their meticulous regulation and decoration of the movements. You can see the movement through the rear of the case, including the custom Tutima automatic rotor. I will say that if you want a Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 movement at its very best, then get one that has been carefully regulated by a German watchmaker like Tutima.
To that end, this is among the rare officially certified German Chronometer watches (DIN norm 8319). This is a similar, but slightly more intense certification than the Swiss COSC. I talk more about German Chronometer certification in the aBlogtoWatch review of the Glashutte Original Senator Chronometer here. Operating at 4Hz (28,800bph), the caliber 320 movement has a power reserve of 44 hours when fully wound. Going back to the topic of the Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Chronograph being a Chronometer, Tutima oddly decided to indicate that on the watch by engraving the term “Chronometer” into the left-side of the case. At the least, it adds some character to the timepiece.
Watches like the Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Chronograph 6402 collection have the most appeal for lovers of “classic-style” watches seeking an otherwise modern wearing experience. I wouldn’t call this watch so much a vintage-style timepiece as much as it is a modern watch using traditional design elements which for the most part continue to be relevant. Many modern pilot watches are a bit too techie or aggressive-looking for many tastes.
It looks more elegant and gentle and is ideal for a general purpose tool to look at, you can wear casual or more formal. Tutima knows aesthetics and dresses comfortably even further than historical or timer purposes, although many of them exchange their attention to historical military pilots watches at the end of the day when it is worn and enjoy their experience of using their clocks to make them Watch lovers a good choice.
Those on a bit more of a budget might opt for the non-chronograph version of Tutima Grand Flieger which is the 6102-01 (strap) and 6102-02 (bracelet) which are priced at $2,500 and $2,900, respectively. I’ll note that those watches are not certified German Chronometers. Moving up to the reference 6402-01 and 6402-02 Tutima Grand Flieger Classic Chronometer, the prices are $5,100 and $5,500.