Founded in 1948, Yema is probably one of the most revered French watchmaking brands with a longstanding history of diver’s watches. One of its most renowned models is the Superman, the first large-scale model with 300m water-resistance, a practical bezel-lock device and a very distinctive design launched in 1963. Yema has produced many reissues of its 1960s and 1970s dive watches in its Heritage collection, but today it’s time to stage the comeback of its earliest model with the new Yema Superman Skin Diver Limited Edition.
The Yema Superman is probably one of the most iconic watches ever produced in France. It has gained impressive fame over the years, specifically in recent times, thanks to a large community of vintage watch enthusiasts. And the watch deserves it. While most dive watches produced from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s were intended for professional use, Yema started to work on a watch with almost equivalent specifications but dedicated to a wider audience of aficionados and recreational divers. Launched in 1963, the Superman immediately impressed dive watch aficionados with its impressive 300m water-resistance and unique bezel-lock device.
It isn’t the first time that Yema offers a vintage re-edition of the early Superman model – remember that this watch has been produced over generations with a succession of upgrades and cosmetic updates. Back in July 2020, Yema launched the Superman Heritage 63, a watch that already had a “Skin Diver” profile and a look inspired by (but not entirely reproducing) that of the original model.
Yema’s latest Superman Skin Diver Limited Edition is even more faithful to the original. It not only reproduces the dial and case almost identically – minus a few upgrades regarding materials and size – but it also reintroduces the original steel “scales” bracelet.
The new Yema Superman Skin Diver is available in a couple of models differentiated by the diameter of the case. As such, you have the 41mm option – presented here – or a more compact 39mm case that is closer to the original (which we clearly recommend). Just like the original, the watch is categorised as a ‘skin diver’. What does this mean? While fully equipped professional divers (with underwater breathing apparatus) are often referred to as scuba divers, skin divers are recreational divers relying on simpler equipment (mask, flippers and snorkel).
For watches, it is the same. Scuba diving watches are more robust, more capable, can withstand even more pressure and can be equipped with an HEV (helium escape valve). Skin diver watches are dive watches that tone down the ruggedness, are often slimmer and lighter, and thus more wearable on land. The Superman Skin Diver Limited Edition of 2021 faithfully recreates the spirit of the original as a capable watch that isn’t overly instrumental.
Seen from the side, the watch has a thin caseband with most of the height absorbed by the caseback and the bezel. Moreover, the angular shape of the original watch, with thin lugs and pointy crown guards, has been respected. Two distinctive elements of the original model have been reincorporated: firstly, the black domed bezel, which has been updated from bakelite to sapphire crystal and secondly, the bezel-lock device, which ensures the bezel can’t be actuated once in place. The bezel is unidirectional and can be rotated only when the crown is unscrewed. Once you screw down the crown in place, not only does the watch become waterproof, but it also presses the bezel-lock device to make sure that the bezel is firmly secured. In addition, the watch is equipped with a domed sapphire crystal and, like the original, is water-resistant to 300m.
Another update for this new Yema Superman Skin Diver is the dial. While the design has already been seen on the 2020 edition, the applied markers and the lime-coloured lume are now gone and replaced by more historically accurate painted markers. The hands, in polished steel, have the same design as the 1963 watch – pencil for hours, arrow for the minutes, and lollipop for the seconds. All the elements are generously filled with vintage-inspired beige Super-LumiNova and outlined in white – including the date window at 3 o’clock. The dial base has a glossy black surface, reinforcing the old-school look (but not tampering with legibility…).
Inside the case, no surprises. The Yema Superman Skin Diver relies on a tried-and-tested Sellita SW 200-1, an automatic movement with a 4Hz frequency and a 38h power reserve. This outsourced calibre is accurate, easy to service and accessibly priced.
Last but not least, the 2021 Yema Superman Skin Diver reintroduces its stainless steel “scales” bracelet, a distinguishing characteristic of the original model with a unique and solid retro look. Thanks to the small links, the bracelet is extremely supple. Entirely brushed, it is equipped with a folding clasp and a diver’s extension. One comment: the end-links extend quite a lot from the case, and the watch is rather long on the wrist. Photographed on my 16.5cm wrist, the 41mm model felt too large, so I’d recommend the 39mm instead and reserve the 41mm for wrist sizes of 18cm and up. Still, good that Yema offers this option.
Availability & Price
The Yema Superman Skin Diver Limited Edition will be produced in 1,000 pieces (39mm and 41mm included) and priced at EUR 1,249 on the steel scales bracelet. It will be available for pre-order from 17 June 2021 at yema.com.