Tool of Hard Knocks: Tutima’s Grand Classic Black

Tutima Grand Classic Black watchesFrom our watch test archives, writer Alexander Krupp and photographer Nik Schölzel take a close look at Tutima’s Grand Classic Black sport watch, which boasts an extra-hardened, scratch-resistant case and costs less than $2,000.

Tutima’s Grand Classic collection recalls the sport watches the company produced in the 1930s. These watches’ characteristics include fluted, rotating bezels with red reference markers, clearly designed dials and spade-shaped hands. This year, the brand — founded in 1927 — introduced the historically inspired Grand Classic Black models, a dynamic line of sport watches with a black coating on their cases. The coating process is technically complex. Instead of applying a conventional PVD coating to the cases, Tutima decided to significantly harden their surfaces first, as another German brand, Frankfurt-based Sinn, did several years ago.

Tutima hardens the steel case to a level of 1,200 Vickers and then adds a special PVD coating with a hardness of 2,000 Vickers to achieve the approximate scratch-resistance of a sapphire crystal. It then hardens the steel base material (initially, only around 200 Vickers) to prevent it from buckling under stress, which would cause the coating to scratch or crack.

Tutima Grand Classic Black watches
The Grand Classic Black undergoes a special hardening process that makes it exceptionally scratch-resistant.

True to Tutima’s word, neither the hardened case nor the pronged buckle of the Grand Classic sport watch showed any scratches after extended wear — even after some intense encounters with hard objects from daily life, such as table corners, radiators, and pots and pans.

The stainless-steel case appears to be rather roughly finished along the lugs, but it is otherwise well outfitted with two sapphire crystals, a fully threaded caseback and a screw-down crown. The smoothly rotating bezel, however, is a bit too loose: it moves at the slightest touch, making it useless for measuring elapsed time or for a countdown.

Every other feature of the watch is virtually perfect. Operation is easy thanks to the generously sized screw-down crown, and legibility is exceptional in both daylight and darkness. There is, however, a risk of inadvertently adjusting the date instead of the day, or vice versa, and then having to run through the entire cycle again to fix it. This relatively small defect is overcome by a quick adjustment for both displays as well as a dual-language day disk, which allows the wearer to choose between English and German.

Wearing comfort is also exceptional. The flat case and leather strap with pronged buckle fit comfortably around the wrist. The strap is sturdy but still supple, and has hardened rivets, faultless seams and perfectly varnished cut edges. Its water-resistance is superior, as proven by its exposure to several heavy downpours during the wearing test. A moving roller on the buckle makes it easier to thread and adjust the thick strap, but with this level of attention to detail one would expect a turned prong rather than the less sturdy, bent type.

Tutima Grand Classic Black watch dial
The watch has a large crown, a fluted rotating bezel and a dual-language date indicator; this one is set to German.

A bit more care and attention would have also benefitted the movement. Tutima uses an ETA 2836, which does not have a Glucydur balance; it also has no decorative finishes except on the rotor. This makes it easy to discern the Tutima “T” and the brand’s founding year, “1927,” which are printed on the sapphire caseback of every Grand Classic model. And even though the movement does not provide the best base values, with a large positional deviation of 12 seconds, the watch still manages a very good average rate of +1.3 seconds per day. This is taking into account the considerable rate drop in the “crown left” position. The actual wearing test showed a gain of between one and three seconds, depending on how the watch was placed on the nightstand for the evening.

A price of $1,700 for this nicely finished and distinctively designed sport watch makes it easy to overlook the movement’s lack of decorations and somewhat irregular rate. Overall, the striking design and numerous quality features, from the case to the clasp, make this watch worthy of praise.

Tutima Grand Classic Black back
The brand’s “T” emblem and the year of its founding, 1927, are printed on the sapphire caseback.

Manufacturer: Tutima Uhrenfabrik GmbH, Trendelbuscher Weg 16-18, D-27777, Ganderkesee, Germany
Reference number: 628-11
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds; day and date with quick adjustment; hack mechanism
Movement: ETA 2836 “Elaboré,” automatic; 28,800 vph; 25 jewels; fine regulator with eccentric; Etachoc shock absorber; power reserve = 38 hours; diameter = 25.6 mm; height = 5 mm
Case: Hardened stainless steel with special PVD coating, curved sapphire crystal, fully threaded caseback with sapphire window, water-resistant to 100 meters
Strap and clasp: Calfskin strap with pronged buckle made of hardened steel and special PVD coating
Rate results (deviation in seconds per 24 hours):
Dial up            +5
Dial down        +1
Crown up        -1
Crown down        +3
Crown left        -6
Crown right        +6
Greatest deviation:        12
Average deviation:        +1.3
Average amplitude:
flat positions        286°
hanging positions        270°
Dimensions: Diameter = 43 mm, height = 12.5 mm, weight = 89 grams
Variations: With black, stainless-steel bracelet ($2,300); Grand Classic Black Chronograph ($3,500 on strap, $4,100 on bracelet)
Price: $1,700

Strap and clasp (max. 10 points):        8
Operation (5):            4
Case (10):            8
Design (15):            13
Legibility (5):                5
Wearing comfort (10):             9
Movement (20):        11
Rate results (10):        7
Overall value (15):        13
TOTAL:        78 points

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