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The curious case of the Russian Tutima UROFA 59

  1. Braindrain Nov 16, 2019

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    I recently acquired a Kirova Type-59 chronograph and thought I’d share the fascinating history behind it.

    In order to tell the story, one must go back into history prior to WW2. To situate, most everyone is aware of the B-Uhr watches that were used by the Luftwafte. The following is a vintage example from Laco.

    buhr luftwafte.jpg
    Source: eBay listing

    However, fewer people are aware of the WW2 flieger chronographs made for the Luftwafte, supposedly for the dive bombers. There were two manufacturers – Hanhart and Tutima.

    Hanhart began making the single pusher Cal 40 in 1939 and the two pusher Cal 41 later on. These were flyback movements. For the Cal 41, the pushers were an asymmetric distance from the crown. The bottom pusher was supposed to be red, which was intended to be a warning to the user of which pusher to use (or not to use). The following is a two pusher Cal 41 example:

    IMG_9968_2048x.jpg
    Source: vintagecaliber.com

    The second manufacturer was Tutima, based in Glashütte, who started chronograph production in 1941.This model has its roots in the German UROFA-UFAG group, founded in 1926 by Dr Ernst Kurtz. UROFA (Uhren Rohwerke Fabrik Glashütte AG), made ebauches, while the the other, UFAG (Uhrenfabrik Glashütte AG), made finished watches.

    The brand they created for the watches was Tutima, from the Latin word tutus, which means "safe" or "protected". The Tutima name was originally given to the highest grade timepieces made by UROFA-UFAG.When WW2 came, the German military placed orders with UROFA-UFAG for a watch for the German Luftwaffe.

    Tutima production started with a gold-plated UROFA 59 without a shock absorber, followed by a limited few with a shock absorber. Production continued with a silver plated movement and ended with a nickel plated one.

    rx1396al.jpg
    Source: Zaf @classicwatch.com

    The flieger chronograph contained the hand wound UROFA caliber 59 with a 30-minute register and small seconds hand subdial. It has 17 jewels and runs at 18,000bph. This movement, like the Hanhart, has a flyback complication, meaning that while the chronograph is running, momentarily pressing the lower pusher will cause the chronograph to reset but otherwise continue running. It has a nickel-plated brass case, screw down caseback, knurled rotating bezel, and a domed acrylic crystal. The movement met the German army specifications of a deviation of no more than -3/+12 seconds on a daily average within a temperature range of -10 to +40 degrees Centigrade.

    Between 1941 and 1945, UROFA-UFAG supplied around 30,000 flieger chronographs to the Luftwafte. It turned out to be the last watch the Glashütte group ever made. In the spring of 1945, with the German Army nearly defeated, the factory ceased production.

    The Allied powers divided Germany into four post-war zones. The state of Saxony, which included Glashütte, was part of the Soviet Occupation zone. Supposedly, the Russians were impressed by what they found in Glashütte, and promptly took the design, remaining parts, and manufacturing machinery for the watch as war reparations. The Russian military was sent to the watch factory on May 23, 1945 to ensure against unauthorized activity. There was some back and forth as to the fate of the factory but on July 1, there were orders for immediate dismantling of the UROFA and UFAG workshops. The last crate was loaded on Aug 11 and roughly 20 people from the workshop went to Moscow to help reassemble the workshop, at the newly renamed First Moscow Watch Factory (abbreviated FMWF or 1MWF), and made the Kirov (aka Kirovie, Kirova, Kirowa) watch.

    Starting in 1947, the 1MWF produced Tutima-UROFA chronographs using original German parts taken from Glashütte, but with a 1MWF-signed dial and a Russian made bridge.

    rx1166s.jpg
    Source: Zaf @classicwatch.com

    Many believe the 1MWF modified the large 'reset' spring (seen near the outer edge of the movement opposite the balance wheel). They supposedly changed it from a die-stamped steel spring seen in the German-made movement to a pulled wire spring. However, there are those who have seen this modification in Tutima-case fliegers as well. It’s not clear whether this was truly a 1MWF modification. Nonetheless, according to several watchmakers, this is a design improvement which makes for a hardier spring that is less likely to fail.

    Type59composite.jpg
    Source: Mark Gordon @WUS

    It is generally believed that the 1MWF made its own cases. Above and below are comparison shots of a Tutima and 1MWF case.

    IMG_1690.jpg
    Source: peteswatch @MWR

    Supposedly, the 1MWF were able to re-start the captured German machinery in 1949 and were able to start production of a small number of completely Russian-made Type-59 chronographs. These can be easily identified due to the diamond logo for the 1MWF, which replaced the earlier script logo. The completely Russian made chronographs also sported a 1MWF signed bridge.

    knirim.jpg
    Source: Konrad Knirim @Militäruhren

    1mwfbridge.jpg
    Source: Mark Gordon @WUS

    At this point, history starts to diverge. Supposedly, by 1951, production on the Type-59 ceased entirely. Some surmise either the Russians completely ran out of parts or the quality was sub-par, or the 1MWF had already started transitioning to the Strela 3017. There is some credence to both. Of note is the white dialed Type-59, made around 1950. The case shape is already different from the UROFA 59 cases and is similar to the later released Strela Cal 3017.

    EPILOGUE 1
    Is the story over? You know it’s not. :)

    While the Russians confiscated the Tutima machinery and parts from Glashutte, there were reports of Dr. Kurtz fleeing days before the Russians taking over Glashutte and taking parts with him to Memmelsdorf. This theory supposedly holds water in that Dr. Kurtz had already set up a manufacturing facility there. Some watches that were supposedly made from this factory include “DoD” and “IRAM”, both trademarks of Dodane. Note the following pics have 3 stars printed on top of “Glashütte” on the dial. There are also known examples with sterile dials, which also fall into this category.

    3 star.jpg
    Source: cfk @MWR

    3 star iram.jpg
    Source: cfk @MWR

    sterile dial.pg.jpg
    Source: glashuetteuhren.de

    These watches were supposedly provided to the Allies for “filled and delivered” orders. Debate continues whether it was actually a military contract, but nobody can seem to find paperwork around that.

    It’s also mentioned that Vixa and Dodane used the UROFA-UFAG design to create the Type 20 watches. Certainly, one can see the similarities.

    EPILOGUE 2
    The UROFA 59 was (and still is) a very, very important movement for Tutima. Although all the machinery to make it has been long gone, in 2018, Tutima decided to re-create the UROFA 59 (as close as they could) as the Caliber T659, and put it into a very special 18K gold case – the Tutima Tempostopp Flyback Chronograph.

    Tutima_Tempostopp_Perspective_CaptionEN-1600x740.jpg
    Source: tutima.com

    Here is a comparison pic of the UROFA 59 and the Cal T659. Pretty darn close, considering Tutima is a small manufacturer.

    Urofa-Caliber-59_Tutima-Caliber-T65_9W0B7177.jpg
    Source: quillandpad.com

    MY WATCH

    So…. let me get to my latest acquisition, which is a 1MWF Type-59 Kirova chrono. This is an earlier version with the German parts and Russian bridge. It was probably made somewhere between 1947 and 1948. The specs are the same as the original Tutima flieger - 39mm across (excluding crown), 13mm thick, and a 20mm lug width. I have been on the hunt for one for a good, long time. It is quite difficult to find one that has all its original bits.

    mykirova2 copy.jpg
    mykirova1 copy.jpg

    At any given day, one can find a few Tutima Glashütte examples for sale. However, the same cannot be said for a good 1MWF example. Based on a spreadsheet that was shared with me, there are less than 50 known 1MWF survivors today. I count myself very lucky to be one of the few that have one.

    I hope you enjoyed this short write up. I cannot take any credit for the research as that was done by many others. I just tried to consolidate it all, including the conspiracy theories. And, to put the photos up on the OF servers to save for posterity, due to the many photo sites going down these days.

    Kendall

    Sources:
    @Lucidor – bestdamnwatchforum.com
    @Fritz, @cfk – MWR
    @peteswatch – MWR
    watch-wiki.org/index.php?title=KURTZ_Glash%FCtter_Tradition
    vintage-time.de/index.php/Thread/8886-Tutima-Glashütte-überdrucktes-Zifferblatt-Dodane
    watchprosite.com/horological-meandering/a-look-at-the-history-of-the-luftwaffe-fliegerchronograph/17.496631.2986841/
    quillandpad.com/2018/05/13/tutima-tempostopp-flyback-chronograph-a-moving-homage-to-the-history-of-glashutte-archive/
     
  2. Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Nov 16, 2019

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    The modern Tutima is indeed a small maker, but certainly has some watchmaking prowess. If you ask yourself what watch company in Germany was the first to make a fully German made minute repeater, most would think Lange...but it was Tutima...
     
  3. Braindrain Nov 16, 2019

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    Cool, thanks Al
     
  4. jaspers Nov 16, 2019

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    Wonderful, authoritative piece of research @Braindrain! By combining (and weighing) these sources you've contributed to horological history. Very interesting story, too. I had no idea about this german influence on Soviet watchmaking—they seem to have had a habit of "borrowing" of purchasing foreign technology to build their own watch industry.

    Also, great work on making Tutima a little less obscure. It's such a cool brand with such a rich history. Vintage Tutimas are very attractively priced, I find, and you get so much watch for the money.
     
  5. Chaco May 29, 2020

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  6. Chaco May 29, 2020

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    Screenshot_20200311-181733.png Screenshot_20200311-181954.png
    So I wonder if anyone has an idea on this new find ? Obviously made in Russia but I wonder if the movement parts are from Tutima or Russian made. I would kinda like to date it. Mint and runs great. Any ideas most welcome. TKS. Jim
     
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  7. Foo2rama Keeps his worms in a ball instead of a can. May 29, 2020

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    I’d also note that sometime after the fall of the wall, Tutima re released the watch in 38mm?

    There is no info on them but my buddy has one. Very cool pieces. I’ll get pictures next time I see him.

    Also it was my understanding that production never really stopped in The Glashutte area.
     
  8. Braindrain May 29, 2020

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    That mvmt isn't in my serial number chart but looks to be a Tutima mvmt. Russian made mvmts had a 5 digit serial and a 1mwf signed bridge. Pushers are replaced. Can't say much else with those pics.

    Nice find.
     
  9. Chaco May 29, 2020

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    Screenshot_20200311-181806.png Screenshot_20200311-181840.png
     
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  10. Braindrain May 30, 2020

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    I'm anything but an expert on these but, when comparing to mine, it seems good. Perhaps the lower fixed bar has been replaced. Nonetheless, a really nice example.
     
  11. Foo2rama Keeps his worms in a ball instead of a can. May 30, 2020

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    If this had an onion crown it would be the perfect watch.

    granted I’ve been hitting the rye.... but I’ve always loved the fluted bezel tutima chrono.
     
    Edited May 30, 2020
  12. Sidreilley May 31, 2020

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    Thanks for the interesting article. I’m always interested in Tutima stories since I have a modern flieger style Tutima with an ETA 2893-2 under the hood which is a favorite of mine. I was familiar with part of the story where the Russians took everything, but not with what the Russians did with what they took from Glashütte.
     
    Braindrain likes this.
  13. AutoErratic May 31, 2020

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    Russian version is my grail watch I suppose - insofar as I probably won't ever own one - not that I could not own one, but more practical pieces will be on my list first, so it will never reach the top, but I will always feel my collection is not complete without one. make sense? Thought not ::screwloose:: !
     
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  14. Braindrain May 31, 2020

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    If you see one in decent shape for sale, jump on it. Most of them I see for sale are in horrendous shape.

    But yeah, I wasnt actively looking for one. It just "fell into my lap".
     
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  15. AutoErratic Jun 1, 2020

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    Yes, I have looked for a while and 'more practical' was my euphemism for something that would not need another lifetime quest of returning to useful condition!
     
  16. Professor Jun 1, 2020

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    Awhile back I was watching a Russian made war movie and noticed a tank commander was wearing a very large diameter wristwatch with a military look. The film was a quality production and every bit of equipment seemed period correct. I haven't found much information on WW2 era Russian military watches so I was curious about this one.
    Perhaps a version of the early Big Pilot's Watches made using pocket watch movements?
    Perhaps a UK or USA product sent as lend lease?
     
  17. Braindrain Jun 1, 2020

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    Perhaps something along the lines of the original Zenith Type 20? Photo isn't mine. The Extra Special is extra rare, but the Special can be found fairly easily.

    93944061_2718379951564912_6347085009123278848_o.jpg
     
  18. JimJupiter Sep 8, 2020

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    Would love to add my Kirova to that post. Special about that watch is the white dial, that seems to be unique until now. Compared to the known whtite dials of the civil Kirova watches, the dial on my watch is more closer to the black known dials ( [1] hollow numbers, [2] no grainy finish). Thanks for the work in this post @Braindrain.

    20200907-DSC08441.jpg comparison.jpg
     
  19. mydeafcat Mar 26, 2021

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    Reviving this thread. Talk about being blind-sided.

    Today, I went into a local AD to look at their pre-owned collection. Instead, I noticed the Tutima on the staff person’s wrist. She took me over to the case and my eyes zeroed in on this. A holy sh*t moment. Today went from Connies to Tudor...then Hey shiny thing! I have a new obsession.

    C8E3437E-8CCD-446F-9B3B-41116BAD9345.jpeg
     
  20. Foo2rama Keeps his worms in a ball instead of a can. Mar 26, 2021

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    my friend has that exact watch. It’s a stunner. I’ve only seen a few and if you want my info dump on them message me.
     
    mydeafcat likes this.