Tutima recently returned to its roots, moving into a new manufacture in the German watchmaking hub of Glashütte and overhauling all of its watch collections. At this year’s Las Vegas watch and jewelry fairs, I got a close look at the new Tutima collection, with one model in particular catching my eye: the Tutima Saxon One Chronograph.
Taking note of my admiration, Tutima U.S.A. president Gustavo Calzadilla offered me the opportunity to spend an outdoorsy week in the Adirondacks with the white dial/leather-strap version of the Saxon One (Ref. 6420-04). The watch proved to be a remarkable companion in just about every respect.
The first thing that struck me as I removed the Saxon One from its cushioned box was how much a departure it was aesthetically, from both the Tutima I’d come to know over the past few years covering the watch industry as well as from the other Glashütte-based haute horlogerie brands. It may seem an odd remark about a brand that made its name providing timepieces for German military pilots, and is in no way intended as a slight, but the pre-revamp Tutima had never struck me as hyper-masculine in its watch designs. That is certainly not the case with the Saxon One. This is a large watch that seems to revel in its largeness; it’s 43 mm in diameter (and 15.7 mm thick) but could fool you into thinking it’s even larger, mostly due to the unique shape of its stainless steel case.
Said case is so distinctive in its look as to be very difficult to describe in a few words: it consists of a round bezel on a cushion-shaped case body with four sharply raised, beveled corners. Tutima refers to the shape as “pyramidal,” and this seems to me as good and succinct a description as any. The bezel is bidirectional, as were those on many classical pilots’ watches of yore, and is highlighted by a red stripe, a Tutima hallmark. The bezel is also coin-edged, another detail that offers a stylistic nod to Tutima watch designs of yesteryear and one to which I have always been partial. In an age in which many vintage looks are making a comeback in the watch world, the coin-edge bezel is an element that far too few watch brands avail themselves of these days, in my humble opinion. The sapphire crystal is slightly domed and has nonreflective coating on both sides.
Despite these classical touches, though, the Saxon One is no way “retro” and deserves its stated place as the flagship model of the new, 21st-century Tutima. Before you even strap on the watch, you may well find your eye lingering for several minutes on the alternating polished and brushed surfaces on the multi-level case, which displays an attention to detail that is characteristic of Glashütte watchmaking.
When you do get around to winding the watch for the first time, hold it close to your ear: the hushed clicking and cranking of the gears as they power up the mainspring is an auditory delight, almost like the sound of a tiny engine revving up — which I suppose, in a sense, it is.
The other remarkable aspects of the Saxon One’s case are the chronograph pushers, which are integrated so smoothly into the side of the case that one hardly knows they’re there. However, the screw-down crown — sandwiched as it is between two protectors and the two pushers and also very closely aligned with the case middle— is a bit difficult to grasp and pull out, especially with large fingers. The first crown position sets the date; the second, pulled all the way out, sets the hours and minutes. While this design makes for a very streamlined, symmetrical look overall, I could’ve done with just a little less seamlessness in the case in favor of a slightly more protruding crown.
Aside from the smoothly integrated pushers, the chronograph mechanism of the Saxon One also features a somewhat unconventional method of tallying up elapsed times. A light press of the pusher (you’ll hear a pleasant little “snap”) activates the chronograph, sending one of the bright red central hands sweeping around the opalescent white dial; the other red hand begins moving slowly at the same time, from minute to minute, counting off the elapsed chronograph minutes on the outer scale. I found this to be a great, easily legible way to read off the accumulated chronograph minutes, as opposed to the more traditional method, which involves squinting at subdials.
The dial of the Saxon One has a tri-compax design, with a chronograph hours counter at 6 o’clock (12 hours of elapsed time in total), 24-hour scale at 12 o’clock, and small seconds at 9 o’clock. The subdials all have a subtle snailed pattern, and the chronograph hours subdial stands out with its crosshairs design and red, arrow-pointed hand. The polished, applied hour indices are beautiful, and suitably elegant for this watch’s sporty-luxury character. Another nice bit of attention to detail: the black type on white background in the date window at 3 o’clock, which adds to the overall seamless look.
The only legibility issue I encountered was while wearing the watch in the bright mid-afternoon sun while performing (and timing) outdoor chores. White hands with silver borders pointing to shiny, silvered indices on a white dial is not the ideal design for one hoping to read the time in the glinting sunlight. On the other hand, the (once again) restrained and judicious use of luminous material on the hands and on the outer edges of the applied indices — which soaked up lots of sunlight during my daytime activities — made it quite easy to read the dial in the dark. It occurs to me that I would love to see a version of the Saxon One — same case, same hands, etc., even the same brown strap — with a black dial. Perhaps Tutima may already have this in the works. (Of course, ideally, it would also have a date window with white text on a black background.)
More Saxon attention to detail is evident in the movement, Tutima’s automatic Caliber 521 — particularly in its big, heavy openworked rotor, with a gold Tutima “T” medallion in the center of the oscillating mass. Peering into the sapphire caseback window (and through the openworked rotor) allows a view of the plates and bridges, elaborately decorated with Glashütte stripes and perlage, and the dutifully oscillating balance. The movement has 25 jewels and holds 44 hours’ worth of power reserve in its mainspring barrel.
The brown alligator leather strap is gorgeous, with a sleek finish that calls to mind high-end luggage and lounge chairs in a classical men’s club. The closure is a double safety clasp, which, like the case, boasts peerlessly executed alternating finishes, polished and brushed. I’ve probably overused the term “seamless” in describing the Saxon One at this point, but that is the term that comes to mind once again upon looking at how this strap flows perfectly into the notched case lugs. The big case may not be ideal for smaller wrists, but the watch is quite snug and comfy once it’s strapped on.
The Tutima Saxon One Chronograph (Ref. 6420-04) retails for $6,700, a price most aficionados of fine Glashütte watchmaking would likely find quite palatable, considering the complexity of the case design and the quality of the chronograph movement. And while I still await that hypothetical black-dial version, the Saxon One is indeed available in other executions. This model, with the white dial, also comes on a stainless steel bracelet (Ref. 6420-02). There are also two variations with an anthracite gray dial, on either a matching gray alligator strap (Ref. 6420-03) or a stainless steel bracelet (Ref. 6420-01) and two other models, both with gray dials and slightly sportier 60-minute rotating bezels, on either a black alligator strap (Ref. 6422-02 LS) or bracelet (Ref. 6422-01 LS).