Yema, based mostly in Morteau in japanese France, has been producing watches since 1948, and a few of their older items command excessive costs on the classic market. Their trendy watchmaking, nevertheless, has gone largely unnoticed within the U.S. market, which is a disgrace. The model’s Heritage assortment has revived a few of its basic fashions, one in every of which, the Superman, was initially launched in 1963, and has been lovingly recreated utilizing 3D modeling of every particular person element.
The Good: As a result of the Superman Heritage is a trustworthy copy of the unique (extra particularly, of an iteration launched in 1970, the reference 53.00.16), the watch maintains its good proportions, with a 39mm by 14mm case and a 19mm lug width. The bracelet, with its fascinating 5-piece hyperlinks, can also be current for the Heritage version.
Who It’s For: Those that love classic watches however favor one thing with a extra dependable, trendy motion will undoubtedly love the Superman Heritage. An ETA 2824-2 automated motion ensures 38 hours of energy reserve, and Tremendous LumiNova-coated indices and arms make for a dial that glows powerfully at midnight.
Options: The RN AUTO MK1 from CWC (Cabot Watch Firm) involves thoughts for roughly the identical cash (~$965) — you continue to get these classic seems to be with a contemporary motion, however in a bigger case measurement. The Zodiac Tremendous Sea Wolf 53 Pores and skin for $1,295 presents comparable worth for cash and presents 1960s Zodiac appears coupled with the STP1-11 automated motion.
Assessment: Having labored for a short while in classic watch gross sales, I used to be conscious of Yema’s cool 1960s and 70s designs, and all for to see what the model had been as much as since its acquirement by French watchmaking consortium Montres Ambre in 2009. The Superman, initially launched in 1963 and subsequently issued to French Air Pressure pilots, was a dive watch that got here of age throughout a golden interval in leisure SCUBA diving. Quite impressively for the time, the unique watch featured a depth score of 990 ft, and a singular bezel-locking mechanism that ensured the bezel couldn’t by accident transfer beneath water.
The 3D modeling Yema used to recreate an unique 1970s Superman ref. 53.00zero.16 has resulted in a watch with the identical proportions because the classic unique, which is an excellent factor A 39mm x 14mm chrome steel case is type of the Goldilocks measurement for a dive watch, in the event you ask me — although if this weren’t a 1-for-1 recreation of a classic reference, I might admittedly take difficulty with the selection of a 19mm lug width, because it limits considerably one’s selection of aftermarket straps.
The case structure of the watch is value a quick description with a view to convey why it sits comfortably on the wrist: the case again is just not fairly as flush with the primary case as it’s on, say, a Submariner, however in contrast to on a Sub, this serves to raise the watch off your wrist a bit such that the crown doesn’t dig into your hand. The primary case is itself skinny with lugs that curve gently downwards and hug your wrist, a function that’s each aesthetically refined and in addition will increase consolation. Although the lugs don’t function a number of floor finishes or bevels as on some higher-priced timepieces, the case is engaging and cozy, which is vital when you’re going to be sporting it often.
The case terminates on the right-hand aspect in two pointed crown guards that shield the screw-down crown. At first, I had a number of considerations about this crown, which was wobbly (one thing I’ve seen on microbrand watches), troublesome to screw down all the best way, and whose winding wasn’t notably clean. Nevertheless, after talking with Yema, it was established that my evaluate mannequin was from a really early batch of the Superman Heritage. Since this time, these issued have been addressed and glued, and these features having to do with the crown carry out as they need to.
The design function that differentiates Yema’s Superman from different, comparable dive watches is the bezel lock gadget. That is primarily a bit of metal that sits between the crown and the primary watch case — although it should transfer freely when the crown is pulled in and out the winding place, the crown itself prevents it from falling off the watch.
Why is that this little piece of metal current? When the Superman was initially designed, it (like most dive watches of the day) featured a bi-directional bezel and not using a ratcheting click on function, which might flip freely in both course with out a lot resistance. This meant that you can successfully miscalculate backside time or decompression cease time underwater in case your bezel by chance turned, which is probably harmful. The bezel lock gadget on a Yema Superman was meant to “lock” the bezel in place in order that it couldn’t be by accident turned and provide the impression that you simply truly had extra backside time out there to you you then did.
There was only one drawback with this design: to be able to “unlock” the bezel by releasing the piece of metallic clamping it down, you wanted to unscrew the crown of your watch. In fact, this operation must happen underwater, and everybody is aware of the primary rule of dive watches is “be sure that the rattling crown is screwed down earlier than you dive.” Why? As a result of if it’s not, the gasket within the crown tube isn’t going to do a lot good to stop tons of pressurized water from making its approach into your watch, probably ruining it.
So when you couldn’t unscrew the crown to be able to loosen the bezel lock mechanism to be able to flip the bezel with a view to time backside time and decompression stops as a way to, you understand, not die, then what good was this technique? Put merely, it wasn’t any good. The system merely doesn’t allow decompression stops or timing of backside time whereas SCUBA diving. And, what’s extra, with the arrival of the press spring and the unidirectional bezel, the system has since turn into superfluous.
Nevertheless, watch nerds aren’t essentially logical individuals. Most of them aren’t SCUBA diving with their dive watches, and when Yema tried a unique bezel lock system a couple of years in the past, it didn’t go over properly. The corporate was evidently “overwhelmed with nasty emails from Yema followers complaining about it, saying that it wasn’t an actual Superman,” in line with the model. Yema held a ballot, the results of which confirmed that lower than 10% of their clients truly SCUBA dive, and that those that did so wore each a watch and a digital dive pc underwater. In different phrases, they needed the unique bezel lock function for authenticity’s sake, and never as a result of the unique design made sense — go determine! This could inform you one thing about “watch individuals.”
In any case, what you’re getting on the Superman Heritage is the unique bezel lock mechanism, in order that’s one thing to concentrate on. In case you truly use your dive bezel underwater (and even above water), this is probably not the look ahead to you. What may be cool sooner or later is a 12-hour bezel variant — in the event you’re preserving tabs of a second time zone, you don’t have to always modify the bezel as soon as it’s set, anyway.
Bezel lock mechanism apart, the Superman Heritage retains the remainder of the unique classic design, none of which presents any underwater points. You get a skinny, 316L metal unidirectional bezel with black insert graduated to 120 clicks with a SuperLuminova-coated pip at 12 o’clock. The bezel options hashmarks at every minute, which is extremely helpful and a glance I’ve all the time favored from the Rolex “Mil-Sub” and SBS-issued Omega Seamaster 300.
The dial on the Superman is gloss black and encompasses a minutes/seconds monitor with 60 markings, spherical hour markers with a triangular marking at 12 o’clock, and vintage-styled (learn: yellowish) Tremendous LumiNova paint. Textual content on the dial is sparse and consists of “Yema Suerpman” beneath the 12 o’clock place, “Automated 990 Ft” above the 6 o’clock place, and “France” beneath the 6 o’clock marker.
There’s additionally a date window at three o’clock (the place it ought to be, damnit!) achieved in white with black numerals. The palms are the fascinating ones from the unique Superman: a fats sword-type hour hand, a minute hand with an outsized triangle pointer and an extended, skinny seconds hand with triangular “shovel” tip and splash of purple paint close to the tip. General, it’s a really good-looking dial — restrained and utilitarian.
The screw-down case again to the watch is engraved by way of hydraulic press with the Yema seal. It’s a deep engraving and properly accomplished, the one disadvantage to which is that it you’ll be able to type of “really feel” it in your wrist — it doesn’t slide over your pores and skin as simply as, say, a clean Rolex Submariner case again, however grips your pores and skin extra simply. I don’t assume that is essentially a detractor, however it’s one thing to concentrate on.
The bracelet that ships on the Superman Heritage black dial (the brand new blue variant contains a totally different bracelet) is one in every of my favourite options of the watch. There’s nothing notably noteworthy about it aside from the truth that it’s design lives someplace between that of a beads of rice and a standard Jubilee sort (Tag Heuer bracelets from the 1990s are kind of harking back to this look, as properly). The bracelet is machined from brushed 316 chrome steel and options polished central hyperlinks for an alternating 5-piece sample that meshes superbly with the watch head. Being a dive watch, the bracelet includes a diver’s extension to suit over a moist go well with with a minted Yema classic emblem.
Yema have critical watch nerdery coated right here by providing two several types of crystal with the Superman Heritage: a domed mineral or a domed sapphire, each of which measure 2.6mm in thickness. The mineral variant, which is product of atypical glass and isn’t as scratch-resistant as sapphire, provides the Superman Heritage an MSRP of $850 on leather-based or $950 on a bracelet, whereas the sapphire model will set you again $1,00zero on leather-based or $1,100 on the bracelet. Each varieties of crystal are usual in to the identical domed form to offer the impression of a classic acrylic crystal, so for my cash, I might spring for the sapphire on the bracelet, which continues to be a strong worth in a dive watch.
Verdict: Whew. That was so much, however there’s lots to speak about with this watch, and rather a lot to debate. The very fact is that in initially making an attempt to unravel an issue (locking a bi-directional bezel down in order that it wouldn’t get by chance moved), the unique Yema designers created a second drawback (that you simply couldn’t truly use the bezel underwater). The fashionable firm realized that this was a design flaw, tried to right it, and have been met with followers of the model saying that they didn’t care concerning the utility of the design — they cared extra for the authenticity of the design with respect to the unique. Yema understood and launched a brand new, one-for-one copy of the unique, solely updating sure different options (crystal, motion) that it felt ought to really feel the good thing about trendy know-how.
Whereas I personally do like to make use of a dive watch to time decompression stops and dive time whereas underwater, I acknowledge that I’m additionally an individual for whom my grandfather’s era holds romantic associations of, you realize, exploration, SCUBA diving, preventing Nazis in North Africa, and so forth. What I’m getting at is that there isn’t any good purpose in 2019 to make use of a mechanical dive watch in any respect, not to mention use one to calculate decompression stops and backside time whereas SCUBA diving (although I do acknowledge that it’s all the time good to have a backup in case one’s dive pc fails). Because of this, I’d say that, whereas I’d like to see a model of the Superman Heritage merely devoid of any and all bezel lock mechanism, the one current on the present mannequin wouldn’t trigger me to keep away from the watch. I even discover it unusually charming.
This can be a snug watch, completely sized for the fashionable (and classic) wrist, and one whose toughness was confirmed within the 1970s when the French Air Drive adopted it as a look ahead to its pilots. It’s rated to 990 ft of water resistance, features a 2-year guarantee, is on the market on metal or leather-based with two totally different crystal choices, and ships in a swanky, zippered leather-based presentation field. It seems to be lovely and has an amazing bracelet which, thank the gods, isn’s yet one more poor try on the Oyster bracelet.
Whereas there’s a newer, blue-dialed variant on a unique bracelet in addition to quite a few different automated and quartz iterations of the Superman, it’s the black-dialed Heritage that, for my cash, ought to be your first foray into this storied French model.
What Others Are Saying:
• “The Superman Héritage is a traditionally vital but contemporarily related watch at a comparatively reasonably priced worth, simply as was the unique.” — Caleb Anderson, Watch Time
• “It’s a enjoyable little watch that stays true to its historical past and is certain to attraction to informal lovers and Yema die-hards alike. ” — Christoph McNeill, Worn & Wound
Case Diameter: 39mm
Case Depth: 14mm
Water Resistance: 990 ft.
Motion: ETA 2824-2
Yema offered this product for evaluation.
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