Tutima M2 Coastline Chronograph, $3,300-$3,600
Case Diameter: 43mm
Case Depth: 15.8mm
Water Resistance: 200m
Movement: Tutima cal. 310 automatic (Valjoux 7750 base)
One of the most obscure military watches of the past 40 years is also one of the coolest.
Tutima Glashütte’s mechanical NATO Chronograph ref. 798 adorned the wrists of Germany’s military aviators from the early 1980s and became somewhat of classic in military watch circles — based on the unique Lemania 5100 with central minutes chronograph hand, it was robust, unique and downright cool-looking. In 2013 the company released a successor timepiece, the M2, which, though no longer issued to NATO pilots, brought to the fore several technological improvements that modernized the model. The original NATO Chrono and the M2 itself have since gone through numerous iterations and become somewhat collectible.
Back at Baselworld 2019, Tutima released the M2 Coastline Chronograph, a more affordable take on the M2 ($3,300 on a strap and $3,600 on a bracelet), later updating in 2020 it with a special rubber/leather strap option with a deployant clasp. We never got a chance to have hands-on time with the M2, and given our obsession with military (and military-inspired) watches, this seemed a downright horological tragedy. So here we go.
The M2 Coastline builds upon the legacy of Tutima's NATO chronographs, themselves an evolution of a watch first produced by Orfina/Porsche Design in 1979 called the ref. 7177. Tutima began building similar watches in 1983, dubbing its version the "Military Chronograph," and it's this watch that forms the basis of the M2 Coastline Chronograph' design. Though it doesn't incorporate the interesting Lemania ca. 5100 central minutes chronograph movement (the standard M2 model incorporates this functionality), it does use for its engine a version of the famed Valjoux 7750, which provides minutes, seconds, running seconds, a 30-minute register, a 12-hour register and a chronograph register, as well as the date.
Who It's For
Someone who appreciates Tutima's military history would surely enjoy the M2 Coastline Chronograph (especially considering the significant savings it offers over the standard M2 model, which retails for over $6,000), as would someone in the market for a robust chronograph, or even just a robust watch. You need a healthy-sized wrist to pull this one off at 43mm x nearly 16mm, but the originals were roughly that size as well, which provides good legibility for pilots.
There is, of course, the standard M2, which offers Lemania 5100-like functionality, albeit for much more money than the M2 Coastline Chronograph. You could also conceivably get yourself a vintage ref. 798 (~$2,800-$3,500) for similar money, though because the Lemania cal. 5100 is out of production, service might be a pain in the butt, and costly. The 144 St Sa from fellow German brand Sinn ($2,310-$2,490) is a close cousin of the M2 Coastline Chronograph and shares many similar features due to the shared base movement — though it's smaller and thinner, which might be preferred for some people.
The thick tonneau-shaped case, rectangular pushers and vertically aligned chronograph layout immediately give the Coastline Chronograph away as a military-inspired model. This certainly isn't a design object complete with multiple surface treatments, decorations on the movement, etc — it's meant to do a job, and to do it well.
The blue dial version is certainly handsome, with a navy dial (and matching strap) accented by a 12-hour rehaut, white sword hands, a white date wheel with black numerals, and thick, white hour indices. There's no day-of-the-week display as on many Valjoux 7750-powered watches (the Tutima branding lives in the space where this display would otherwise go), but this makes for a slightly less busy dial. The sub-registers — a 30-second counter at 12 o'clock, a 12-hour counter at 6 o'clock, and a running seconds counter at 9 o'clock — are legible despite their size and easily scannable. For a watch that displays a lot of information, the "NATO/Bund chronograph" is both attractive and does its job admirably. An anti-reflective, flat sapphire crystal protects the dial from anything you can throw at it.
It's a good thing the Coastline is made from solid, brushed titanium, because it's by no means "svelte" — at 43mm wide by nearly 16mm thick, this is a hulking chronograph, though so was the original ref. 798, so it's tough to fault the brand for being faithful to its own designs. Still, I immediately found myself wishing for a smaller, thinner version, especially given the new strap's design:
The blue leather, rubber strap is an interesting mesh of the two materials, with a rubber core sheathed with an outer leather layer affixed with blue top-stitching. It's certainly handsome, but it makes use of a deployant clasp, which is absolutely my least favorite type of strap. I find them cumbersome and deeply uncomfortable, and despite a clever system in which the rubber keeper is secured in place with small rubber notches — as well as a material that in and of itself is quite comfortable — this strap was no exception. I would absolutely spring for the bracelet version of the watch if I were to purchase one myself, and especially so given that the spring bars are elevated within the lugs, meaning that the strap and watch don't sit flush with one another. This strap was my biggest gripe with an otherwise very cool watch.
Chronograph action as powered by the brand's cal. 310 automatic (Valjoux 7750-base) movement with 48 hours of power reserve is smooth enough, and the timing functions work well. The watch's pushers, which are rectangular and given a black PVD coating over a grippy surface, are now somewhat iconic, and their low profile means that the watch won't snag on any equipment — a thoughtful and welcome design. I was less impressed with the crown on this particular model, which, though it screws down securely to ensure 200m of water resistance (impressive for a chronograph), I found to feature a wobbly stem. This would concern me if I were using the watch in an equipment-filled environment, and I hope the problem was localized to this review model, which has do doubt made its way around the world from editor to editor.
Speaking of the watch making its rounds, keep in mind that titanium, though super light, is easy to scratch, and though it can be polished like steel, it's often coated, meaning that the polished portion will stick out like a sore thumb. Be mindful of this before you purchase any titanium watch if you're terribly concerned about aesthetics.
The M2 Coastline Chronograph is a watch that's admittedly best for someone with large wrists, or someone who doesn't mind such a case depth (~16mm). These sorts of specs aren't my personal preference in a chronograph, but then again, I also don't need a chronograph that's water-resistant down to 200m, so there's that to consider. If I were to buy one, there's no doubt in my mind that I would fork over the extra $300 for the bracelet, however — I just can't get behind deployant straps, even one made from an intriguing leather/rubber combination. Thankfully, the Coastline Chronograph is available in not only multiple dial colors (black and blue), but on multiple straps and bracelets is well. Ultimately, the choice is yours.