As one of the most important representants of the French watchmaking industry, and for now many decades, Yema has long been partnering with its country’s military forces, issuing specific watches for the Marine Nationale (the French Navy) or the Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace (the French Air and Space Force or AAE). Today, on a very specific and relevant day for French citizens and members of military forces – yes, today is Bastille Day in France, the country’s national day with military parades in Paris – Yema releases a new military-inspired model, dedicated to the Sauveteurs-Plongeurs Héliportés de l’armée de l’Air (SPHAA), the Search and Rescue Helicopter team of the Air and Space Force. Based on the brand’s emblematic dive watch, with yet multiple design evolutions, here’s the Yema Superman AAE Search And Rescue Limited Edition.
It’s the right moment now to turn on your speakers and listen to this… La Marseillaise, the national anthem of France (sorry for a bit of patriotism on this day… I’m French, I can’t help it). On this July 14th, Yema has decided to release a new watch that is directly linked to the French military forces and inspired by a vintage watch that was once issued to the Sauveteurs-Plongeurs Héliportés de l’armée de l’Air (the SPHAA, a search and rescue team of the Air Force, acting over the sea, with helicopters). At the beginning of the 1970s, this highly-trained team received as part of their equipment a Yema Superman dive watch reference 24.11.17. This evolution of the classic Superman differentiated thanks to its brushed blue dial and typical 1970s applied U-shaped markers. And it’s now back.
This watch, issued to the Search and Rescue team, actually marked the first collaboration between French manufacturer Yema and a military force, namely the French Air Force. Onboard their Caracal and Puma helicopters, the so-called “Ploufs” (the nickname of the French Sauveteurs-Plongeurs or rescue divers) carry several missions, the first one being to rescue Air Force pilots after a crash above the sea, a sort of last resort for aviators when other solutions are not available anymore. Acting in hostile environments, and operating both in the air and underwater, they thus needed a reliable watch to withstand most conditions.
As a node to the French military forces and to the watch that was issued to them back in the 1970s, Yema resurrects this specific model today in a technically modernized way, yet with visual faithfulness in mind. The new Yema Superman AAE Search And Rescue Limited Edition is directly modelled after the original watch, and is based on the classic Superman model with 300m water-resistance – not the recently updated version with 500m water-resistance we’ve discovered here. The Search and Rescue team isn’t properly diving, so a deep dive watch doesn’t make sense for them.
As such, we have all the classic elements of the Superman, starting with the skin-diver-inspired case with thin casebands, sharp thin lugs and overall emblematic design. Made of stainless steel, the Yema Superman AAE is available (as often with the brand) in two sizes, with a 39mm or 41mm case. The height is about 13mm, mostly due to the protruding double-domed sapphire crystal on top and domed caseback. Water-resistance is rated at 300m on this model, thanks to a screw-down crown and caseback.
Other signature elements of the Superman are equally present, such as the locking device for the bezel or the pointy crown guards. The bezel feels classic at first too, with its fully-graduated 60-minute scale. But no more aluminium insert here, as it is now made of scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, in black with matte white printings underneath. The caseback is specific to this limited edition and embossed with the Armée de l’Air & de l’Espace logo.
The main specificity of this Yema Superman AAE Search And Rescue is its dial, which is modelled after the historic edition. The base is matte navy blue and features typically 1970s U-shaped applied markers in polished metal. The latter feature a small luminous dot and are paired with a Superman handset, comprising a large arrow minutes hand and a shovel seconds hand – all are largely filled with white BGW9 Super-LumiNova. All printings are done in white and the dial remains free of unnecessary logos.
Inside the case, Yema here went for a solid, outsourced movement, the Sellita SW200-1. This self-winding movement, known for its reliability and simplicity, runs at 4Hz and stores 38 hours of power reserve. It displays here the time centrally as well as a date at 3 o’clock, in a framed window.
The Yema Superman AAE Search And Rescue Limited Edition is available on a stainless steel bracelet with a folding clasp and diving extension, a blue textile NATO-like strap or a black FKM rubber strap. The watch is limited to 1,000 individually numbered pieces (500 pieces in 39mm, 500 pieces in 41mm) and is available for pre-order as of today, July 14th. The price will be EUR 1,149 on textile strap, EUR 1,249 on steel bracelet or EUR 1,299 on rubber strap (members of the French Army Forces will be able to get it for half the price).
For more details and to place an order, please visit yema.com.