There is no doubt that the Tutima M2 Pioneer Chronograph is an attractive watch, as most German-designed watches are. But here at Watchreport, I do not review watches the same way everyone else does. Most sites try to be wordsmiths and tend to highlight the watch in a positive way. I just don’t do that. Instead, I do, what you probably do. I look at the watch overall, the movement, the use, and the feel, and of course, the price. Yes, this watch came out a few years ago, and as such, this sample I have for review is also a few years old and looks like it went a few rounds with a young Mike Tyson. That said, it gave me a look at what a piece that has been worn for a few years on a regular basis would look like, something I do not normally get to experience with review watches. Most watches are sent to me brand new or have only been in a few others hands before it arrives at my doorstep. This one has probably passed through 20-30 different hands, and that has allowed me to take a distinctive look at this expensive titanium chronograph.
Now, as you can see from the specs above, this is not your average watch, and I will say this does have a very modern feel to it. Yes, this watch came out in 2016/2017, but even in 2021, this Tutima is not a classic or vintage-inspired piece. The watch does trace its roots to the Tutima Military, and while it retains the same case shape, the older model feels like a sports car with a manual shifter, and this new version more like the latest sports car that is fully automatic. It just looks smoother and points to the future, instead of a nod to the past, at least in my opinion. Wanting to keep the look from the Tutima Military, this M2 Pioneer Chronograph uses the Valjoux 7750 movement, a well-known chronograph movement used by countless brands big and small, but Tutima has modified it to look and function like the Lemania 5100. This heavily modified movement is one of the big reasons for this chronograph’s high price, and I absolutely do consider the price to be high. The question though, as with most of these reviews, is it worth the price?
On paper, it sure seems worth the price. All titanium case (and optional bracelet), modified movement, soft-iron inner case to help with magnetic fields, WR to 300 meters, integrated pushers, and of course, made in Germany. Why do I even pose that question then? The review is done, right? It is a titanium, automatic chronograph Tutima, that is why it is worth the price. Right? RIGHT?! Not so fast. All those things are true, but I look deeper than what you can read off the website and what others will gush over. Let me be clear. I think this Tutima M2 Pioneer Chronograph is a hell of a good-looking piece, even if I prefer the M2 Seven Seas, which is basically the 3-hand version of this piece. I always have and have been wanting to review one for quite a long time, which is why even though this watch is not a brand-new release, I still wanted to get it in hand and check it out. As it turns out, as great as the appearance may be, there are a few things that really stand out, and they are not positive.
Let’s start with the good though. $6100 will get you the watch as you see here, with a Kevlar fabric strap, with a red Lorica backing. For around $6700, the current price I could find online, you get the full titanium H-link bracelet and the Kevlar strap, and this is the way to go in my opinion. The bracelet really completes the look, will add some weight to it, and looks more expensive with the bracelet, or should I say, gives the appearance of a more expensive watch, where the strap doesn’t scream this piece cost more than most of our first cars. I am not saying we all want to flash wealthiness when wearing a wristwatch, but the watch on this strap just does not equate to a watch at this price point.
You are getting a great movement, that with the modifications makes it easier to track your seconds, minutes, and hours on the dial, and also gives you a 24-hour indicator. Oh, and those pushers? I love them. Even though they are rubber, there is something about pressing them that is so satisfying, and they give such solid feedback. The size is not overwhelming either, though some say it is due to its 46mm wide case. I guess it depends on your wrist size, but I find it to be a perfect fit for my 7 1/2 inch wrist with the cushion style case, and I am someone who tends to gravitate towards smaller watches these days.
For a chronograph, I find the dial still easy to read. A chronograph will always make a dial busy, no way around that, but the removal of the day helps keep it less cluttered, and the way the dial is arranged to resemble the Lemania 5100 and the use of colors on the hour sub-dial and airplane minute hand allows you to see what is going on at a glance. I wish other brands would start to modify movements like this, as I much prefer to have a separate hand to show the minutes of the running chronograph. When you watch the video, I show the chrono running for 5 minutes (sped up in post), to allow you to see this movement do its thing. The black dial is a little dull but the bright white hands and indices really do pop. Since this is a pilot watch, the bezel is bi-directional and has a really great click about it, and feels like it could be used with gloves if need be, and is just very satisfying to use. This may seem stupid to even put in the review, but I am also glad they went with a white on black date wheel-even brands at this price have screwed this up, and it keeps the flow of the dial going, and doesn’t stick out like a black on white date wheel would.
Unfortunately, this is now the time where we get to the not-so-great aspects of the Tutima M2 Pioneer Chronograph. I am not going to sugarcoat it, so I will jump right in. The sapphire crystal is flat and does look great inset into the case, but like a lot of watches out of Germany, uses a double-sided AR coating. I won’t belabor it here, but I am not a fan of double AR coatings, and even though you can’t see it here in my photography, on video, you can easily see why this is not a positive. Another aspect that really has me scratching my head is the crown. On a watch that is extremely readable with paddle pushers that are large and so fun to use, why did Tutima go with such a small crown? It does screw down into the case, so it is out of the way and hard to snag on anything, but it is just way too small. Because of this, it is hard to grip, and pulling it out after it is unscrewed makes you feel like you are going to break it, not to mention the aggravation when screwing it back down into the case. This is not the type of crown I expected on a pilot watch and surely not one I expected on a watch at this price.
Something else to be aware of, especially if you purchase it on the bracelet, which comes with the Kevlar strap. You WILL NOT enjoy the process of switching straps on this watch unless you are someone who gets off on punishing yourself. If you are, no judgment here, but to the rest of us, this is just not a good time. You see, drilled lugs are present, and Tutima apparently does include a tool, one that I did not receive with my review sample. No issue I thought, I have my own tools. Well, after feeling like these pins inside this watch just do not move and thinking I was going to damage the watch, I gave up. For a day anyway. The next day I decided, these pins have to push down, there is no other way to get this strap off. After eating a protein bar to give me more strength and applying more pressure, I was finally able to get the strap off. Kind of.
What I discovered was these were not shoulderless spring bars but a large pin and collar type system. The pin needed to be pulled out with pliers and then I was finally able to get the strap off, and that is when I found the collar. Here’s the good news. The collar as you would expect goes into the strap, you line it up inside the lugs and then you can insert the pin, and hammer it down. Why is that good? Because unless this strap is cut, it is never coming off the watch internally. This thing is on there until you don’t want it to be. The bad? This is not something you want to do on a regular basis, for many reasons, one being that you can really mar up the blasted titanium case, it is pretty time-consuming on top of it. To reduce wear and tear, there is a very nice push-button titanium deployant, which allows you to put the watch on like it is on a bracelet instead of a strap.
If buying on the bracelet, brand new that is, you are basically looking at $7,000 after taxes and all. There are a lot of watches to consider when you get into that price bracket. For about $800 more, you can buy an Omega Seamaster 300 Chronograph, and I can list countless other options as well, from more or lesser-known brands in the watch community. This Tutima M2 Pioneer Chronograph is a modern representation of an iconic military watch, Ones actually contracted and used by the German Air-Force since 1983, and continued for almost 30 years. On paper, it is a marvel, and despite the shortcomings, I listed in this article, I can see why someone would gravitate towards this watch, especially if they are seeking a chronograph. For me though, the shortcomings are enough to keep me window shopping this piece, and possibly the Seven Seas as well, because as nice as they look, I need it all. I need an easy-to-use crown, I need my sapphire crystal to stay scratch-free and If you give me a strap along with my bracelet, I want to be able to change it out easily, and pliers should NEVER be involved. If you still love it though and want to check out more, hit up the Tutima website for more info.
I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.
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