Tutima Flieger Automatic Slate Grey: A Relatively Affordable, Great-Looking Pilot’s Watch
There is an old saying: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
Many of you may understand the truth of that statement. The world and the universe are big and complex – and almost entirely out of our control. No matter what we have in mind, no matter how much we consider every possible contingency our plans are often derailed: chaos is infinitely creative.
Basically, the universe will find a way to make sure that nothing goes exactly the way we envisioned. And the bigger and more complex the plan, the more ways it can go wrong. Just ask any entrepreneur or small business owner whether they followed their business plans perfectly without needing to make any adjustments.
Now add events like economic collapse, war, shift in technology, or loss of a loved one; in the resulting chaos the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. Try as we might to control the wicked winds of fate and fortune, it is folly to believe one can escape a shifting world.
No matter; one adjusts and plots a new course forward, continuing to adjust as needed. Or the result is a failure.
The first half of the twentieth century made German watch brands intimately aware of this reality. Before World War II there were several successful brands, with at least two hotspots in Germany for high-end watchmaking.
But when war came, it hit the industry hard with many companies halting watch production altogether or diverting resources for the war effort. Some were bombed to oblivion, altering plans for many companies forever.
Tutima moved from its home base in Glashütte to the western part of Germany shortly before the end of the war. This prevented it from being nationalized by the German Democratic Republic’s “East German” government, but it had to let go of its roots – at least for the time being.
After the reunification of Germany in 1990, which few predicted, Tutima made plans to return to Glashütte. However, it now had a longer history in Ganderkesee, where it finally settled, than its Saxon birthplace. So Tutima made plans to expand with an additional new factory in historic Glashütte.
Tutima had no original plan for this exact path, but it made adjustments to go with the flow. And now, 94 years after its foundation, this historic brand produces nearly 100 references across seven collections, including the ever-popular Flieger which has become an icon of German watchmaking. Over the years, Tutima has grown and evolved to changing conditions to maintain its respected position within the German (and international) watch market.
I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with the new slate-grey Flieger Automatic and here’s what I discovered.
Tutima Glashütte Flieger Automatic Slate Grey
The Flieger Automatic is the simplest iteration in the Flieger collection: a simple three-hander with date at 6 o’clock. It differs from the Grand Flieger, which is larger and has a more traditional case and dial aesthetic with details that are clearly built around being a modern homage of the early classic pilot’s watches for which Tutima is famous.
The Flieger Automatic is a smaller and more streamlined model that doesn’t feel stuck in the past, but instead just flavored by it. For those who like a less flamboyant Flieger aesthetic, this is clearly the go-to piece as it lacks the larger jewelry-like fluted bezel and aggressive styling.
The case is well proportioned, and the crown isn’t a bulbous onion but a simple fluted square just hinting at the oignon shape. Some people, like our editor-in-chief, are big fans of the bold aesthetic of the Grand Flieger Classic, but I prefer the restraint found in this line.
I wore the slate grey model with matching Horween leather strap, but it comes in four dial variations with matching straps and the option to swap in a very clean looking three-link steel bracelet, which also differs from the beads-of-rice style of the Grand Flieger bracelets.
This bracelet is more my style based on how I like to wear tool watches, but many will likely prefer the thick leather straps that are more historically accurate looking. Either way, the Flieger Automatic is a solid entry for those looking to get some German heritage without breaking the bank.
I’ve caused some hubbub in the past labeling watches as affordable, but this one truly is achievable for many watch enthusiasts, and that adds a ton of value.
The best part of the Flieger Automatic is that it tones down the brash style of the pilot’s watch, which often overtakes the wrist and sometimes your entire outfit if you aren’t careful. The two most recent iterations in the collection expand from the earlier, more moderate aesthetic with solid dials and straps with a signature “pilot” style, including contrasting stitching that adds a small amount of vintage flair.
The dials are a gradient style with the main color in the center fading out to black along the edges, imitating the patina that can form on dials and gauges as years wear on.
And instead of a monochrome strap, the new Horween straps Tutima has chosen are the more handmade, unstitched variety with color along the center and burnished black on the edges. Combining this with the artistic single stitch of black right near the lugs amplifies the handmade artisan vibe that many collectors appreciate.
The Tutima Flieger Automatic has a calm dial placing some emphasis on the signature pyramid reference mark flanked by two dots at 12 o’clock that is often seen on more traditional pilot’s watches.
To me, it’s hard for a watch to be called a true Flieger without this detail, so the fact that the Flieger Automatic uses it as a main feature brings this watch closer to an honest pilot’s watch. Its bold hashmarks also help distinguish the hours for netter legibility.
The rest of the aesthetic is solid with luminous hands and a bright orange center second hand. The Flieger Automatic is a great entry-level pilot’s watch from a brand with a century of history in Germany, both east and west.
The Tutima Flieger Automatic Slate Grey that I tested is the newest release, preceded by a Night Green model with the same updated aesthetic. I would happily recommend this watch for anyone who wants a slightly smaller and more wrist-friendly pilot’s watch style with great value and solid looks.
After breaking down the Flieger Automatic aesthetically, let’s break it down to the hard facts.
- Wowza Factor * 7.4 People that shop for Flieger watches are usually into the bold style, so a slightly more restrained version like this is designed to fly just a little under the radar!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 74.6 » 731.576m/s2 If you ever dream of flying, then a watch like this will play into those late-night lustful fantasies perfectly!
- M.G.R. * 45 Once again, a solid ETA base movement is never a bad choice. In combination with the price point, this is a great engine to drive the Flieger Automatic!
- Added-Functionitis * Mild The addition of a date is always welcome to me, even if it falls victim to a contrasting color for the date disk. Still, I’d recommend children’s strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the very mild swelling!
- Ouch Outline * 7 Pinching your fingertip in a vise when you aren’t paying attention! There are many times when I am forced to clamp something too small in a vise that is too big because I am lacking an appropriately sized clamp. Sometimes when carefully placing it in, I also catch a bit of finger for a rather significant ouchie. Still, I’d do it again if it meant getting the Tutima Flieger Automatic back on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * That dial! The first two Flieger Automatic pieces with solid dials were good but, man, seeing the gradient dials of the most recent updates definitely made me start looking at china patterns!
- Awesome Total * 695 Start with the case diameter in millimeters (41) and multiply by the number of jewels in the movement (25) then subtract the caliber number (330) for a rather considered awesome total!
For more information, please visit tutima.com/watch/flieger-automatic-6105-31.
Quick Facts Tutima Flieger Automatic Slate Grey Ref. 6105-31 and 6105-32
Case: 41 x 13 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber Tutima 330 (ETA 2836 base), 38 hours power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, (hacking) seconds; date
Price: $1,650 on Horween leather strap; $1,990 on steel bracelet
* This article was first published on May 2, 2021 at Tutima Glashütte Flieger Automatic Slate Grey: A Relatively Affordable, Great-Looking Pilot’s Watch.