The “Superman” nomenclature might call to mind mid-century children’s comics at first, but consider this: Yema watches were the first French timepieces to reach depths of over 300 meters, the first French watch to go to space, and the first French watch to reach the north pole on an unsupported mission, according to Yema.
Put into context of the company’s history, the Superman label is particularly apt. The name first appeared in 1963, and Yema has been releasing modern interpretations of the historic Superman models for the last few years. This iteration leans into the imaginative design from the early ’60s with futuristic typeface present at the 12, 9, and 6 markers. The aesthetic traces its roots back to the earliest Superman watches.
The Swiss have dominated the modern narrative about historical watches from the early days of SCUBA diving. French watch manufacturers of the time haven’t gotten the same exposure despite close associations with the explosion of SCUBA. Jacques Cousteau, the father of the field, was a Frenchman, after all. But the modern Yema line has found a niche within the enthusiast community, and with a focus on keeping as much of the operation as “French” as possible and making models in a range of sizes, Yema is steadily picking up steam.
The original Superman model of 1963 was water resistant to 300m, and that specification is carried into the present day watch. Additionally, sapphire is used on the bezel to impart the same sort of sheen that bakelite lent to dive watches from the ’60s. The signature bezel-locking system hasn’t been left behind either. In the physical and spiritual sense, there’s plenty of kinship between the modern re-edition and its mid-century predecessor. Yema has avoided falling into the trap of grasping for random iconic bits from its past and slapping it on an unrelated watch. According to Yema, design, prototyping, and assembly all take place at their workshop in Morteau, France. In an age when it’s easy to feign a strong connection to the past by simply purchasing intellectual property and branding rights from the past, Yema stands out for placing authenticity first.
Inside, the Sellita SW200-1 carries out timekeeping operations. While Yema has made significant investments and advancements with their MBP1000 in-house caliber, the advantage of using a tried and true movement like a Sellita SW200 is a large network of parts, a wide selection of folks who know how to service it, and it allows the watch to be offered at a price that represents a lot of value.
Like the Superman model from the last few years, this watch comes in two sizes: 39mm and 41mm, and it comes on a tropik strap or a bracelet. One of the most often critiqued elements of a watch is its size, and Yema has preemptively quelled any complaints by producing the watch in a range of sizes that will fit most wrists and tastes. Some folks, like myself, tend to prefer watches closer to the mid-century size, and for that, the 39mm version is an option. But for the general modern taste, there’s a 41mm version. Producing a watch that only varies three millimeters isn’t a widespread practice in the industry. Producing a midsize model and standard size model is, sure, but that’s usually 36mm and 41mm. Yema’s small enough to pull something like this off, and the company is thoughtful and aware of the enthusiast demographic it caters to.
The Superman 63 will be made in a run of 1,000 watches, with a price point of $ 1,199 on the bracelet and $ 1,049 on the tropik strap. This watch might just help a new crop of enthusiasts overcome their own version of kryptonite, whether it be at the desk or at depth.
Model: Yema Superman 63
Diameter: 39mm and 41mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Dial Color: Black
Indexes: ’60s-inspired lume-filled applied indices
Water Resistance: 300m
Strap/Bracelet: Tropik strap, bracelet
Caliber: Sellita SW200-1
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Power Reserve: 38 hours
Frequency: 28,800 VpH
Pricing & Availability
Price: $ 1,049 on tropik strap; $ 1,199 on bracelet.
Availability: Online at Yema’s website.
Limited Edition: 1,000 pieces.
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