We recently had the pleasure of meeting with Yema: an independent watch brand based in Morteau, France. They participated at Time to Watches 2023: an event held within walking distance of Watches and Wonders Geneva. Yema shared with us their new releases, talked about their history, and answered all of our questions about their 2023 novelties. Let’s take a closer look at what’s new from Yema – but first – a little background.
Yema History & The Modern Brand
Originally founded in 1948, French watchmaker Yema boasts a well-rounded collection of tool watches with deep historical significance. Their watches have been to outer space, the deep sea, and the North Pole – all before the 1990’s. They have provided watches to the French Armed Forces for decades. Since Yema reclaimed its independent status in 2011, they’ve been laser focused on insourcing their production and advancing in-house movement technology. This all takes place in Morteau, France: a small town in the Franche-Comté region of the Jura mountains. The brand proudly celebrates its eastern-French heritage, headquartered about 60 km from Besançon, France where the brand was founded.
Yema Urban Field
Image Source: fratellowatches.com
Yema’s Urban Field contrasts traditional military watch design with French art deco styling. Unlike most field watches, the Yema Urban Field has a polished case and polished bracelet (your choice of Bonklip-style or beads-of-rice). Inside the case sits a hand-wound Sellita caliber SW210-1b: regulated within +/- 7 seconds per day. This beautiful movement is visible through a sapphire exhibition caseback. Although the Urban Field doesn't have a screw-down crown, it is rated to 100 meters of water resistance. On the dial, you’ll notice a railroad minute track surrounding a thin crosshair, Yema logo, and varied hour indices: an inverted triangle at 12, horizontal dash at 6, arabic numerals for odd numbers, and bold circles for even numbers. These indices are printed on a sandblasted dial that comes in black, blue, green, white, or a slightly-funky iridescent beige-gold. If you appreciate the legibility of field watches but want something a bit more interesting, the Yema Urban Field is a great choice. Available in 37.5mm or 39mm, the Urban Field is now available for preorder at $1,099.
Superman 500 GMT
Originally released in 1963, Yema’s flagship Superman was the first French-made watch to reach a depth of 300 meters. Over the decades, the Superman has maintained its status as a capable tool watch enjoyed by enthusiasts and diving professionals alike. New for 2023 is the Superman 500 GMT: a deep diving dual-timezone watch. Powered by the in-house caliber YEMA3000, this watch offers “caller” GMT functionality and 500 meters of water resistance. Like all Superman models, the 500 GMT features Yema’s bezel lock mechanism at 3 o’clock. Upon screwing down the crown, the bezel is held in place by a small steel bracket. While the bezel lock and extreme water resistance scream “purpose-built dive watch”, the 24-hour bezel does quite the opposite. Nevertheless, the bicolor sapphire inserts are beautiful and give the 500 GMT a lot of personality. It comes in a ton of configurations: green/white, red/white, brown/black (pictured above), black/white, blue/red, and grey/blue. If you’re looking for a vintage-inspired deep-diving GMT, this is a no brainer. Unlike the Urban Field, the Superman 500 GMT is currently available for order in 39mm and 41mm: both at $1399.
Navygraf Marine Nationale GMT
A few years after Yema released the Superman, they developed the similarly capable Navygraf. Designed by Jean Müeller, this 70’s diver sets itself apart with bright yellow hands, a redesigned dial, and lack of a bezel lock. In recent years, Yema revived the Navygraf in collaboration with the French Navy (Marine Nationale), establishing it as the official watch of the Marine Nationale. New this year is the Marine Nationale GMT equipped with the in-house caliber YEMA3000. Naturally, this is a very rugged dive watch; it was developed in partnership with the French Armed Forces. It offers the same “caller GMT” functionality. as the Superman 500 GMT but with “only” 300 meters of water resistance. Visually, this thing is stunning. The white applied indices provide great contrast to the blue dial. This color scheme extends to the bicolor 24-hour bezel. Slicing through the blue is a bright yellow seconds hand and yellow-tipped GMT hand. These pay homage to the original Navygraf, as do the split indices at 12, 6, and 9 o’clock. The first batch of these watches is limited to 300 pieces; they are available for preorder now at $1,349.
Yema Meca-Quartz Rallygraf
Image Source: timeandtidewatches.com
Yema’s meca-quartz Rallygraf is a faithful revival of the brand’s 1960’s racing chronograph. Since 2019, this Seiko VK64-powered meca-quartz chrono has offered 1970’s styling in an affordable and reliable package. The Rallygraf (Rallye) was revisited in 2021 with the Rallye Andretti: a limited edition release honoring Mario Andretti’s ties with the model. This year, Yema introduced a slew of new Rallygraf colors: green, blue, maroon-red, panda, and reverse panda. While handling the watch in person, I was surprised by its compact size and build quality. The Rallygraf’s 39mm diameter, double domed mineral crystal, and satisfying pusher click (thanks to its mechanical chronograph module) make for a watch that feels far more expensive than it actually is. The Rallygraf is available now from Yema at just $369.