France has a rich watchmaking tradition and its ties with Switzerland are vibrant. Watchmaking developed in Switzerland after the French Huguenot refugees brought their watch and clock-making skills to Geneva. Although the quartz crisis crippled the French watch industry, things are changing. A “Nouvelle Vague” of French independent watchmakers and watch brands is emerging; among these is Yema. This historical independent family watch brand that was founded in 1948 is now enjoying a comeback, in particular with the recreation of past glories. The brand now launches a luxury sports watch powered by an in-house micro-rotor movement made on French soil. Meet the Yema Wristmaster Micro-Rotor Limited Edition, now available via a crowdfunding campaign.
The Yema Calibre CMM20 Brings Back Made-In-France watchmaking
Although there are still watch and watch part manufacturers, particularly in the French Jura (near Switzerland), France’s “industrial” production of movements is almost nil. French watchmakers mostly commute to Switzerland to practice their skills on the other side of the border. So, it is great news to see a French brand investing to produce made-in-France manufacture movements.
This is the project undertaken by Yema, one of the main historical French watchmaking brands. The company has changed hands several times since its creation in 1948; it was even owned by Matra or Seiko at some points in its history, but it saw its final acquisition in 2008 by Ambre, a French family-owned watchmaking group. Since then, a lot of energy has been put into bringing the brand back to its former glory.
To create its own calibre, Yema enlisted the talents of Olivier Mori for the design and construction. All parts are manufactured by suppliers operating within a radius of 80 kilometres of the Yema manufacture in Morteau. In particular, the movement blank is manufactured in-house, while the regulating organ comes from Switzerland.
From a design perspective, Yema opted for a micro-rotor movement, which has been dubbed CMM20 – for Calibre Manufacture Morteau 20. This elegant solution allows for a more compact, thinner (3.7mm in height) construction than a traditional central rotor movement. The calibre CMM20 runs at 28,800 vibrations/hour and has a comfortable 70-hour power reserve. The balance wheel is held under a full bridge for more stability. The movement will be regulated within a -3/+7 seconds range, which is close to the COSC specifications. The finishing consists of satin-brushing and micro-blasting with different colour ALD coatings matching the colour of the dial (black, green or blue).
If ETA standards are used for some parts, these are tried-and-tested options and mean the watch can be offered at a fair price… And altogether, it makes for a calibre with solid specs and an interesting look.
The Yema Wristmaster Micro-Rotor
This micro-rotor movement is housed in the brand’s version of the integrated bracelet luxury sports watch: the Wristmaster. While the model comes with some of the characteristic design traits of the category, it is not the re-edition of a Yema past glory but a recent creation with its own personality. The octagonal steel case stands out with a scalloped bezel inspired by a “Sous Marine” model from the 1980s. It mixes straight edges and curves while alternating brushed and polished finishes. The sapphire crystal slightly protrudes from the case, which reinforces its vintage character. Measuring 39mm in diameter, 9.20mm in height and only 43.5mm lug-to-lug, it wears comfy and will suit most wrists. Last, the crown screws down and the water-resistance is rated at 100 meters.
The dial is embossed with slightly curved groves and there is a choice of three different colourways: black, green or blue. The applied rounded, baton-style markers are filled with luminescent material. These are paired with matching hands, while the absence of a date indicator aims at reinforcing the sporty character of the watch.
The Yema Wristmaster Micro-Rotor is presented on an integrated stainless steel bracelet with half H-shaped links that tapers from 24mm at the lugs to 20mm at the clasp. It is closed by a safety butterfly folding clasp that is released by a pair of pushers.
The Yema Wristmaster Micro-rotor Limited Edition will be produced in a limited series of 1,948 pieces, a nod to the date of the creation of the brand. The watch now launches on Kickstarter with deliveries planned from July to October 2023. The Kickstarter price is EUR 1,499, while the future retail price will be EUR 3,000 – which is much less than you would expect for a sports watch with an integrated bracelet and a proprietary micro-rotor movement.
For more information, please visit www.yema.com.