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Yema Watches, the Hidden Gem of the Horology World

June 27, 2023 6 min read

Yema Watches, the Hidden Gem of the Horology World

Although it may shock some watch lovers, superb watches are also being made outside Switzerland and Japan. This world of horology we love so much is so diverse and abundant that we learn something new about it every day.

The Yema Superman vintage ad showcases its patented safety brake stop or Bezel Lock

The Yema Superman vintage ad showcases its patented safety
brake stop (or “Bezel Lock”)

A very rare Yema Yachtingraf Blue Ship Regate Chronograph Circa 1969

A very rare Yema Yachtingraf 'Blue Ship' Régate Chronograph,
Circa 1969

One of its less explored corners belongs to Yema watches. This French company has been producing great watches since 1948, and it's worth the attention. This is their story and what they have to offer to watch lovers worldwide.

The Yema Spationaute 1 became the first French watch in space when worn by French astronaut Jean-Loup Chrétien during his 10-day space mission in 1982.

The Yema Spationaute 1 became the first French watch in space when worn by French astronaut Jean-Loup Chrétien during his 10-day space mission in 1982.

 

A little bit of history behind Yema watches

Henry Lois Belmont, a visionary watchmaker with a rich background in the watchmaking world, founded Yema Watches. And things started to develop very fast, with each new step breaking new frontiers. Here are just a couple of remarkable stops in Yema's prolific 75-year-long history so far:

  • 1963 - Yema Superman Diver introduction
  • 1966 - Yema Yachtingraf and Yema Rallygraf come to life
  • 1982 - Yema Spationaute 1 becomes the first French watch to travel into space
  • 2009 - Yema introduces its first in-house mechanism
  • 2017 - Yema Spacegraf honors Frances's 10th astronaut mission

 

Yema Watches Collections

Over the course of its 75 years of production, Yema Watches delivered a number of different collections, each with subbranches, special editions, and heritage models.

  • Yema Diving watches: Superman 500 subbranches, Navygraf Chrono and Heritage Plongee watches.
  • Yema Military watches: Marine Nationale, Forces Sous Marines, and Armee De L'air & De L'espace subbranches.
  • Yema Urban Sport watches: Urban Field and Traveller subbranches
  • Yema Chronograph watches: Alpine Endurance Team, Heritage Chronographs, and Rallygraf Meca-Quartz subbranches
  • Space & Aviation watches that feature three models of Flygraf watches. 

Now, let's talk some about the most popular watches of the latest Yema collections representatives.

 

Yema Superman 500 collection

Dating back to 1963, the original Yema Superman watch quickly made a great impression on the amateur diving community. It went through several successful modifications, keeping its popularity over the years. Nowadays, the Superman 500 collection proudly represents the iconic Yema Superman family.

Since 1970, YEMA's TimeofHeroes has celebrated sportsmen and explorers who achieved remarkable feats under extreme conditions, reflecting the brand's values and history.

Since 1970, YEMA's #TimeofHeroes has celebrated sportsmen and explorers who achieved remarkable feats under extreme conditions, reflecting the brand's values and history.

The Superman 500 collection of stainless steel watches follows the previous Superman iterations while adding personal touches to the collection. They are a combination of vintage and modern diving watches worlds. Keeping the recognizable traditional design, they add authentic improvements, such as redesigned sapphire crystal, revised bezel locking system, and an in-house caliber.

The New Yema Superman 500 GMT

The New Yema Superman 500 GMT

The Superman 500 models come with a classic "no date" dial design and a GMT one featuring several dial variations to choose from. All Superman 500 variations, just like the name says, come with an improved 500m water resistance rating. Plus, a choice between classic steel and black FKM rubber strap.

The fully polished Yema Superman 500 exudes elegance with a refined look.

The fully polished Yema Superman 500 exudes elegance with a refined look.

The latest addition to the Superman 500 family is the Superman dato watches. These come in two dial color variations, white and green, and both made a grand entry to the horology world early this year.

 

The Rallygraf Meca-Quartz collection

A lot of time has passed since the original Rallygraf, the first Yema watch inspired by the world of car racing, emerged. A bit less since Formula 1 driver Mario Andretti wore one. During this almost 50-year-long period, a number of models were added to the Rallygraf collection, leading to the latest series wearing its name, The Rallygraf Meca-Quartz collection.

Mario Andretti, a former Italian-American racing driver, is captured in an iconic photo wearing what seems to be a Yema/LeJour Rallye timepiece.

Mario Andretti, a former Italian-American racing driver, is captured in an iconic photo wearing what seems to be a Yema/LeJour Rallye timepiece.

The driving force behind the Chronograph Rallygraf Meca-Quartz collection is Seiko's VK64 hybrid caliber. The trusty Seiko caliber powers all time functions while the mechanical module takes smooth control of the chronograph's function.

The YEMA Rallygraf Meca-Quartz was originally launched back in 1966, marking the debut of the collection.

The YEMA Rallygraf Meca-Quartz was originally launched back in 1966, marking the debut of the collection.

The entire design of these appealing watches yields tradition: polished stainless steel case, vintage-inspired sub-registers mirror the looks of old race car dashboards, a tachymetric bezel made of mat aluminum, and checkered flags decorate the dials, as they always have done when it comes to Rallygraf watches. The dials come in five different colors, and the watches come equipped with steel mash or dial-matching color leather Rallye-style straps.

 

The Flygraf collection

Originating back to the 1970s, the Flygraf collection stood the test of time and continues to be one of the collections that epitomes the craftmanship and design diligence of Yema's engineers. The current representative of this iconic collection is the Flygraf Navigator.

Flygraf Navigator honors the recognizable traditional design of Yema Flygraf. ETA Valjoux 7750 caliber drives it with an automatic winding mechanism. Flygraf Navigator features a beveled curved sapphire crystal and a polished stainless steel case. A large diameter (40mm) case, a dial that mirrors an aeronautical instrument board, and a bi-directional rotating bezel make it easy to read and highly useful for pilots.

The YEMA Flygraf Pilot M1 on Pilot's watch strap combines extreme durability for in-flight and field conditions with an elegant look, featuring a leather-coated inner part for added comfort.

The YEMA Flygraf Pilot M1 on Pilot's watch strap combines extreme durability for in-flight and field conditions with an elegant look, featuring a leather-coated inner part for added comfort.

Namely, the bezel features a tachymeter scale in the blue part and a secondary scale in the silver one, which enables the calculation of fuel consumption and conversion of nautical miles to kilometers conversions.

The Flygraf Pilot watch, designed in collaboration with professional aerobatic pilot Sammy Mason, draws inspiration from Flieger and WWII military field watches, and with a 316L stainless steel bracelet.

The Flygraf Pilot watch, designed in collaboration with professional aerobatic pilot Sammy Mason, draws inspiration from Flieger and WWII military field watches, and with a 316L stainless steel bracelet.

The three available watch straps: stainless steel, RUBBER FKM VITON® BAND, and a perforated black leather strap complete the package.

 

Yema in-house calibers

After investing substantial funds, time, and expert knowledge in research and development required to produce in-house calibers, Yema management and engineers were rewarded for their efforts. Yema joined the select club of watchmakers that use their own calibers as the power forces behind their watches.

Yema's management and engineers were rewarded for their efforts in developing in-house calibers, as the brand joined the elite group of watchmakers who use their own calibers to power their watches.

Yema's management and engineers were rewarded for their efforts in developing in-house calibers, as the brand joined the elite group of watchmakers who use their own calibers to power their watches.

There are four Yema in-house calibers currently in use:

  • CALIBRE MANUFACTURE MORTEAU CMM.20 - Olivier Mory developed this micro-rotor caliber, with everything but the regulating organs being designed, developed, and manufactured in their Morteau workshops.
  • MBP1000 - Yema's first mechanical in-house caliber produced in 2011 and sold in over 250 000 units so far.
  • YEMA2000 - Yema released this caliber in 2021 as the second generation of their pioneer MBP1000. Big shoes to fill, but YEMA2000 does it with flying colors, bringing several innovations and improvements to its legendary predecessor.
  • YEMA3000 - It's a cyborg of YEMA2000 as a base and a GMT complication, becoming Yema's first in-house GMT caliber.
Calibre Manufacture Morteau CMM.20 Micro-Rotor

Calibre Manufacture Morteau CMM.20 Micro-Rotor

YEMA In-House Caliber MBP1000

YEMA In-House Caliber MBP1000

YEMA's YEMA2000 in-house Caliber for 3-hands is the second generation, evolved from the MBP1000 Caliber.

YEMA's YEMA2000 in-house Caliber for 3-hands is the second
generation, evolved from the MBP1000 Caliber.

YEMA's first GMT In-house Caliber, the YEMA3000, featuring a GMT complication with an independent hand and based on the YEMA2000 Caliber.

YEMA's first GMT In-house Caliber, the YEMA3000, featuring a
GMT complication with an independent hand and based on
the YEMA2000 Caliber.

Of course, the R&D department in Yema continuously works on new additions, and it's only a matter of time before a new in-house caliber will see the light of day.

Once again, it's beautiful to see how diverse our world of horology truly is. Yema watches stand as a great example of that. Learning about great manufacturers, the watches they produce, and the constant innovations they make is a great privilege and a genuine pleasure.

We can only be grateful and show our support in whatever way we can.

 

Written by S.K., images by others as noted

 

External References :

 

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