A New Arrival or Two - as rare as it gets

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  1. #1
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    Default A New Arrival or Two - as rare as it gets

    A new arrival

    Well, 2 actually, but one is not for me, it is for Andy. We've been hinting at this for a while. Now they are here.

    A long story as to how I got hold of them, if you are interested. If not, skip to "The Watch" section.

    The Purchase

    A few weeks back Andy pointed out to me an auction for an impossibly rare ZUZ-issued Tutima Commando.
    It was being sold by the very customs authority that includes the ZUZ unit.

    I looked with interest at the auction and promptly forgot about it. The auction had been spotted and posted on MWR, so Mil watch collectors knew about it.
    It was (I "knew") going to go for mega-money, and I had none spare.

    I made a mental note to sell a few watches so I could move when I need to, and did in fact sell a few.

    Andy e-mailed again to say it went for very ordinary money indeed, and my interest was spiked.
    He also spotted that the authority had started auctions for 2 more examples, the only change being that these two had plain dials. But they were still from the ZUZ batch, their purchasing numbers were only a couple away from the previous ZUZ example, and they were bought at the same time, back in 2001. Offered with box and papers.

    I vowed to get involved. Andy was interested too, he had raided his mattrerss and I had sold some watches. We were ready to go.

    Why?
    Well, this is no ordinary Tutima Commando. It has a bezel, the one thing that a normal Commando has lacked in any civil guise except one rogue example (seen on TZ-UK) and a catalogue picture of an orange one, as far as I have seen. Believe me, I have looked.

    And this bezel elevates the watch significantly in my eyes.
    Plus, this was definitely an issued piece, from a very small unit. There are only 36 people in the ZUZ, so the number of watches would be less than that.

    I had a standard Commando, bought in 2008 and loved it. It is a great watch. But I use a bezel as often as I do the chronograph, and I felt the lack of it on the Commando.
    I even e-mailed Tutima in 2010 and asked them how it would be possible to convert my Commando to the model with the bezel.
    They denied they had even made such a thing, despite my being able to send them photos of their previous examples. Aaarrggh

    I had also tried to track down the only example I knew of in WIS circles, but previous owners could not recall whom it had been sold to, and the trail was cold.
    I had also sold my Commando a while back.

    So anyway, the summary is that this is a watch I have wanted from waaay back, and I wasn't going to get elbowed out of another opportunity to get one.

    So I registered for the auction site, and sought assurances from the auction provider that I was allowed to bid from the UK and ask for shipping to the UK.

    The fact that I would be bidding on a German auction in German wasn't going to stop me.
    Nor was the fact that I would be in Italy on holiday in a relatively remote Tuscan villa when the listings ended.
    Luckily the villa WiFi was up and running, and I spent a frantic early morning on my smart phone bidding on both auctions, which ended a couple of minutes apart.
    I won both.
    For more than was previously paid, but imho less than I think the watch is worth.
    And less than Andy and I had agreed would be our theoretical "valuation".

    Great.

    Google Translate informed me that I was going to be given bank details by the auction provider within 3 days, and that I then had 5 days to complete payment, and the watches would be sent.

    Nothing arrived.
    I sent e-mails.
    Probably a few more than is polite. I was concerned, and didn't want to be left sitting on my hands whilst the auction authorities re-listed the watches, and blackballed me as a non-payer.

    But nothing was happening, and I was getting paranoid that I was being frozen out of my valid bids, because they couldn't be bothered to send them abroad.

    Take a deep breath, and think.
    I came to the conclusion that it might be half term in Germany too, and perhaps the auction provider was also on holiday, they might be back on Monday

    On rolls Monday.
    Thank the lord, an e-mail arrives at lunchtime giving me payment details. I organise the bank transfer within 2 minutes of getting it,and the real wait starts.
    On Tuesday I note that the payment transfer has left my bank account.

    By the time that Friday arrives and no e-mails had, I am beginning to feel that things may not have been as smooth as they might have been, so I contact the auction authority again to politely check whether the money has arrived. I get no reply.

    On Saturday morning the post brings me a letter from the receiving bank informing me that they have my money, but that they have no idea what it is for.
    It turns out that despite adding the auction number as a reference to the payment, this number alone makes no sense to bankers, and as a Governmnet bank, they have no idea where to put my money.
    I send an e-mail back immediately telling them what I am paying for, and who is administering the auction.
    I also contact the auction administrator (again - they must be heartily bored of me) to let them know that the money has arrived and is waiting to be sent to them at their central banking hub, just in case they were about to re-list the watches.

    More sweat, the rest of the weekend is not very comfortable.

    On Monday I vow to call the two protagonists, and sort out the forwarding of my money from the central Bundeskasse to the appropriate authority.
    I do, and haltingly we converse in Engleutsch until the banker informs me that Zoll has already rung, and the payment "for your 2 watches" is being forwarded. Great. An hour later Zoll tells me the same. Fantastic. The transfer will be complete in a couple of days and I will get shipping details.

    The wait is nearly over.

    Nothing happens.

    More e-mails (from me).

    The next Monday, I get an e-mail early one to say that it was shipped Thursday, and giving tracking references, which only confirm that it was signed into the UK. I realise that only get e-mails from them on a Monday, this is clearly operated on a part-time basis.

    However, within an hour, the watches arrive on the doorstep.

    Hooorah, a mere 3 weeks from the end of the auction, a lot of stress and many e-mails later, I have them.

    Thanks to Andy for his eagle-eyed spotting of these, his will be in the post for him tomorrow, though he will have to wait a little longer to get it, he's out of the country and a colleague is taking his out to him.

    The Watch

    Just in case you were not that interested in the purchase story, here is the bit about the watch.

    This watch was specifically commissioned by the ZUZ unit. ZUZ stands for Zentrale Unterstützungsgruppe Zoll.
    They are a small unit specifically designed for mil-style armed raids for the German customs authority. I understand that previously, the customs used the GSG9 unit for more military interventions, and they were, from the early 1990s, encountering more and more armed culprits during their raids, so in 1994 they began setting up the ZUZ to make the customs authority autonomous in regard to armed interventions.
    It reported for duty, trained and prepared, in 1998. 4 teams of 9 are included, a roster of 36 personnel.
    Many reporters in WIS universe also hold the ZUZ responsible for the design of the Sinn EZM1. I am not sure I agree, I think the GSG9 probably get that honour, but the two are intimately linked with shared selection and training criteria, as well as officers.
    However, ZUZ signed EZM1s do exist, as well as ZTZ ones (ZTZ effectively being the investigative arm of ZUZ).
    This places the unit high up in watchmaking folklore (and incidentally makes it, with this Tutima and EZM1's issued to them, just about the best horologically-supplied unit ever, as far as I can tell).
    The ones I have got were bought in 2001, and they are the earliest use of a bezel on what was already Tutima's NATO and Luftwaffe-issued Lemania-powered chronograph (issued by the Luftwaffe since 1983).
    And this is a 0-60 bi-directional 60-click bezel.
    The watch has undergone a similar paring down of functions that the Sinn has, but it retains the 12-hr register, something that is readily readable, and doesn't obscure the legibility of the main H&M hands. I think it adds functionality. The only "downgrade" from the EZM1 is the absence of lume on any chrono-hands.

    Some of these have a ZUZ-signed dial. These do not, but they do have the procurement contract number on the rear, and the issue numbers are low (late 20s) and contiguous with ZUZ-signed ones. I have no idea, they may be service replacement dials, but they may also be the covert version.

    What is a mystery is why Tutima never made this watch for the general public. They have 0-60 bezel versions of the Military chrono, and compass bezel versions of the yachting chrono (in both blue and purple), all of which use the same case, and the same Lemania 5100 movement. Why they didn't continue with this version is a mystery to me, I would have had one in a heartbeat, as I love the case design and the integrated pushers, a Tutima invention that I deserves a lot of credit.

    So, enjoy these (rather basic) photos.

    Like the PD Orfina photos a few weeks back, you will not see many photos like this. 2 examples of a watch only produced in a very small batch for a specific unit. In one place. On my boots, to be precise.



    Integrated flat pushers ahoy









    Dave
    If it's Lemania-powered, I'm interested. Tool Chrono - interested. Dive Chrono - interested. Interesting - interested

  2. #2
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    Superb writeup Dave and I really enjoyed reading it! BIG CONGRATS to you and Andy for landing these two rare birds. Bet you're chuffed to bits...

    Do you know who got the logo'd one?

    By the way, if you get stuck needing some German help in the future, don't hesitate to ask me!

    Cheers,

    Nick.

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    Haha - and all this was going on while I was very hungover in Spain - so a big thanks again Dave for doing all ze legwerk, it's very much appreciated and having a first proper look at them now all I can say is WOW!

    Brilliant to see a brace together like this, not a sight seen every day. How these guys got away with having such good watches is beyond me - a lot of latitude and independence plus a small number run and big budget is my guess. After all, they only got the 23 EZM1 ZUZ watches in 1997 and these in 2001!

    I'd say (only guessing again) that the dials are original looking at the very slight discolouration of lume - so why have a non-ZUZ marked dial and a ZUZ marked dial? They could well be 'discrete' ones or perhaps the marked ones were specified for the team leaders/managers while the unmarked ones were for the troops. Either way, they are very functional items.

    Unlike Dave I've never handled a Tutima before, they have been on my WTB list for a while and I was looking for something a little different - an all-lume handset, left-handed pushers or a Bund for example, so these are ideal for me in terms of provenance and 'unusualness', top of the heap in fact with the addition of the bezel.

    In terms of the watch itself, I love the pushers and like Dave, I do use a bezel so again a double whammy - plus the usual attributes of the stripped down hyper-legible 5100 display.

    In terms of 'collecting' (with a very modest emphasis on 'collection'!) it strikes another chord for me personally as I've always liked the odder Lemanias which feature a missing subdial or two (or three). So there you go, a personal triple-whammy, and I'm delighted.

    Can't wait to have it in my hands - Dave, your pics have not made the wait easier!!

    Andy

    Nick - no idea about who got the logo'd ones, (there have been two in total), but they did very well with the first one sold...
    Last edited by andy_s; 25-06-2012 at 21:25.

  4. #4
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    Fantastic pair of a highly desirable and a mega rare watch....
    Also an excellent story...
    Conrats for your determination and patience and of course for your purschase....

    Wear them in health guys...Great pieces!!!

  5. #5
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    A truly fascinating story of some rare (understatement ) timepieces.

    May you wear them in good health.

    X

  6. #6
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    Wow. Great write-up of a very interesting pair of watches.
    Your bleeding-edge Now is always someone else’s past. Someone else’s ’70s bellbottoms. Grasp that and start to attain atemporality.

    the #watchnerd

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    I'm still not done drooling!

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the comments gents, they are most appreciated.
    It is great to wear one of these at last. i am enjoying every moment.
    It is a special feeling, I must say.
    Dave
    If it's Lemania-powered, I'm interested. Tool Chrono - interested. Dive Chrono - interested. Interesting - interested

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    I have been in touch with a few members of German fora (Sinn Uhren and Uhr) regarding the plain dial.

    First of all I spotted this comment from about a year ago - (excuse the translation)

    "Special series of the Tutima had exclusively supplied to the special unit of the (so there are several copies and I do not know the exact number). For collectors, of course, exciting. The more interesting because specimens with reduced bezel and dial, never came into the open trade (also ZUZ without logo).
    Greeting
    T
    "

    I followed up on this remark and was sent a lengthy email from H.Thorsen, in which he says he has spoken to a former Tutima watchmaker who says the watches were special limited productions done for ZUZ, GIPN (French Police Intervention Unit - Pascal - you know this one - go find that pic again ) and BGS (German Federal Border Guard).

    He confirmed that the ZUZ had watches without logo as well as with, the critical identifier being the Internal Manufacturer Number (DK) on the caseback. He felt the non-logo ones were more likely to have been properly used, as the logo obviously goes against a tactical/covert operators ethos.

    It is also the same as military issued watches, in that you were made to sign for, and return, them and not allowed to sell them privately, hence the direct disposal from ZOLL, Koln.

    As an additional bonus, I have reason to think they have been recently serviced by Tutima before being allowed onto the market; rather like the Sinn EZM2 GSG9s we saw last year.

    I'm waiting to hear back from another few people on this, but am very happy we chose these Dave.

    Dave - I'll send you the full text, but that's the gist anyway.

    Andy



    Oh, as a PS, I have seen two ZUZ dialled ones without the DK number, I do not know the significance of this, perhaps second run models, as the DK numbering system was also used in the prototype Titanium Bund versions.

    For interest, here's a ZUZ dialled, non-DK numbered Commando with an all white handset...I have no idea on provenance or why it is like this:



    Andy

    (ETA - I should have used you Nick rather than Google Translate for some of these correspondences!!)
    Last edited by andy_s; 27-06-2012 at 22:28.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by andy_s View Post
    GIPN (French Police Intervention Unit - Pascal - you know this one - go find that pic again )
    Your wish is my command...


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