Watchmaking isn’t only a Swiss story. Watches have been produced in many other countries, including France. Unfortunately, the Quartz Crisis dragged most of the French manufactures down, including Yema – certainly one of the most iconic French brands – which has been revived recently. As part of an upcoming “Heritage” collection, the brand is now presenting its first model and I’m proud to say that it is a faithful and automatic re-edition of its legendary dive watch. Meet the 2018 Yema Superman Heritage.
Those who read MONOCHROME regularly might know that I’m French – already a good reason for me to cover this novelty. The second reason that makes me proud to introduce this watch to you is my special relationship with the brand: my first mechanical watch was a 1960s Yema chronograph given to me by my grandfather. Last but not least, this watch is a re-edition of what certainly is the most iconic French watch, the Superman – a watch produced from the early 1960s to the end of the 1980s (with a quartz movement at the end though) – and this re-edition is a true mechanical watch, offered at a rather affordable price. Reason three.
Yema’s history is linked to Henry Louis Belmont, a French watchmaker and entrepreneur who started his own company in 1948. He specialised in the creation of well-built yet affordable watches and was a pioneer in the automation of his production line. The brand really gained famed during the 1960s and 1970s, with its purpose-built collection: Superman (diving), Flygraf (pilot chronograph), Rallygraf (racing chronograph) and Yachtingraf (regatta chronograph). The mechanical versions of these four watches are now recognised as collectable items and are slowly gaining value on the vintage market.
The brand recently reintroduced the Superman in a more modern and affordable format – several versions with larger cases and quartz movements or a French-made calibre MBP100 (a movement produced by Ambre, the owner of Yema). Today, however, we’re looking at the Yema Superman Heritage, a truly vintage-inspired watch and its ETA (Swiss-made) automatic movement that collectors will certainly appreciate.
This new Yema Superman Heritage is the first model of a collection of four watches that will be released in the coming weeks – Yema will also have a Flygraf, a Rallygraf and a Yachtingraf, three chronographs powered by automatic Valjoux movements. Yet, the Superman is even more special and certainly the best example of the “cool French watch”. For this edition, the brand has been faithful to one specific Superman model, the 1970 Reference 53.00.16, pictured below:
Faithful to its ancestor, the 2018 Yema Superman Heritage is reissued in the signature 39mm steel case with pointy lugs and the locking device for the bezel, the most iconic design feature of the Superman located at 3 o’clock next to the crown. The case has been 3D-modelled on a vintage example and only slightly modified to integrate a modern movement. Just like the original version, the new Superman Heritage is water-resistant to 990 feet or 300 metres.
For the occasion of this re-edition, Yema also reissues the original steel bracelet found on vintage versions, with a 5-link profile and alternating brushed and polished surfaces. Even the clasp is identical to the original with the embossed Yema logo. Overall proportions of the watch are on the restrained side, with a 39mm x 14mm case, 19mm lug width and 48mm from lug to lug – just like the 1970s model.
The dial is also an ode to the past, with vintage-coloured indices and the same design for the hands, the luminous dots, the logo and the tracks. The date at 3 o’clock is faithful to the original model – so don’t expect a no-date version. For this modern Yema Superman Heritage, the brand offers the choice between a domed mineral crystal or a domed sapphire crystal (for an extra EUR 150).
Last but not least, the Yema Superman Heritage is powered by a Swiss ETA 2824-2 (hidden under a solid steel back). Pre-orders for this watch assembled in France are now open. It is priced at EUR 949 (mineral glass) or EUR 1,099 (sapphire crystal). Deliveries are expected towards the end of June 2018. More details on yema.com (in French…)