Yema Watches: The French Underdog?
In a world dominated by Swiss and Japanese watchmakers, people often forget that other countries also have their own, excellent horological cultures as well. France, for example, is home to some famous names like Bell & Ross, Breguet, and Cartier.
One of the more underrated French watch brands that you might not have heard of is Yema. This brand boasts a beautifully diverse catalogue of timepieces, all fashioned with distinctive French style. Indeed, Yema watches run the entire gamut from simple and classy dress pieces to hardy, sophisticated dive and pilot timekeepers. Without further ado, let us take a look at the Yema watches available in the market, what they have to offer, and some of their best-selling models.
Brief History of Yema
Yema is a renowned French brand founded by Henry Louis Belmont in 1948. Over the years, Yema has managed to build a great reputation for itself, establishing the brand as one of the representatives of fine French watchmaking. Yema has consistently shown its mastery of the horological craft through excellent models such as the Yema Superman, Yema Yachtingraf, Yema Rallygraf, and many more
More importantly, Yema is also known for consistently breaking records and achieving milestones when it comes to French watchmaking. Some of the brand’s accomplishments include being one of the leading exporters of Fench watches and creating the first French timekeeper to ever go to space. Yema watches are also known for being extremely durable: a Yema timepiece, worn on the wrist of adventurer Jean-Louis Etienne, proved capable of surviving an 800km exhibition across the North Pole.
Today, Yema remains one of the most well-established French watch brands in the industry.
All About Yema’s Watch Collections
As of 2022, Yema has a total of 5 umbrella collections, each of which contains well-crafted, stylish timepieces.
Yema’s Diving collection comprises 6 sub-lines, every one of which offers watches designed specifically for the diving sport. These are the Meangraf Sous-Marine, Marine Nationale, Heritage Diving, Bronze, GMT, and Heritage Quartz sub-collections. The prices of the watches in the Diving line vary quite widely, with the most affordable timepiece selling at just $350 USD while the most expensive one costs around $1,700 USD.Meangraf Sous-Marine
The Meangraf Sous-Marine is the most recent sub-line added to the brand’s Diving collection. It was created to be the perfect all-rounder watch, so it can survive tough conditions both on land and in the water. In terms of its design, the Meangraf Sous-Marine draws inspiration from vintage Yema hybrid models, making it a clean fusion of tradition and modernity.Marine Nationale
Next, we have the Marine Nationale, which is a sub-collection inspired by the French Navy. The Marine Nationale has been a part of the brand’s catalogue for quite a while now, which is not surprising since Yema is known for being the official partner of the French Navy. The Yema Marine Nationale series contains robust watches that cater to both army professionals and the general public.Heritage Diving
Meanwhile, the Heritage Diving sub-range consists of modern-day interpretations of the most iconic Yema watches ever released. Equipped with handy count-up bezels and 300-metre depth ratings, you will find excellent models like the Yema Navygraf and Yema Superman in this series.Bronze
Just from its name, you can probably get an idea of what the Bronze sub-collection is all about. In the Yema Bronze range, you can find elegant sports watches that are made out of high-quality bronze material. These Yema watches are notable for developing gorgeous green patinas as time passes.GMT
The GMT line, on the other hand, offers vintage-inspired timepieces that boast a 3 time-zone GMT function, which allows wearers to keep track of three different time zones at once. As of today, there is only one model in this sub-range: the Yema Superman Worldtime GMT Coke.Heritage Quartz
Last but not least, we have the Heritage Quartz series. It includes durable diving watches that are powered by well-crafted quartz movements. The Heritage Quartz lineup is also primarily made up of modern-day versions of the 1970s Yema Superman Ref. 530016.
The Yema Classic range is the newest collection to be added to the brand’s catalogue. It currently consists of only one sub-line, known as the Yema Wristmaster. The Yema Wristmaster timepieces retail at around $590 USD to $850 USD.
Although the Yema Wristmaster was re-introduced in 2021, it is actually a resurrection of an earlier Yema Wristmaster lineup that was originally released in the 1960s. The 1960s Yema Wristmaster quickly caught the eyes of many due to its unique use of calligraphic typography. As such, Yema has decided to bring this sub-collection back today, starting with reissues of the 1960s Yema Adventurer and Yema Traveler models.
The third of Yema’s collections is the Motorsports series, which consists of timepieces designed for all the racing lovers out there. It comprises two different sub-ranges, the Heritage Chronographs and the Mechanical Quartz. Additionally, the Yema Motorsports has a price range that spans $330 USD to $1,550 US.Heritage Chronographs
First up, we have the Heritage Chronographs, which is a series that is inspired by vintage racing chronographs from the 1960s. It was designed not just for motorsports fans but also for older patrons of the brand who love retro Yema watches. The core model of the Yema Heritage Chronographs is the well-known racing watch, the Yema Speedgraf.Mechanical Quartz
Like the Heritage Chronographs, the Mechanical Quartz series is also made up of motorsports-influenced timepieces. The primary difference, however, is that the Mechanical Quartz watches are all powered by robust quartz calibres. This collection boasts excellent models that have even been worn by icons in the motorsports world such as Mario Andretti.
Space & Aviation
Yema’s Space & Aviation collection contains a selection of models that are designed for aviation professionals. The timepieces in this category are not simply inspired by flight vehicles, but they can actually be used in the aviation field, too. It is made up of three sub-lines: the Flygraf French Air & Space Force, Flygraf, and Zero G. Collectively, the Space & Aviation’s prices range from between $350 USD, up to $1,200 USD.Flygraf French Air & Space Force
First, we have the Flygraf French Air & Space Force, which offers military-grade watches for fighter jet pilots and helicopter rescue divers. As of 2022, Yema serves as the official partner of the French Air & Space Force, which explains the impressive selection of timepieces in the Flygraf French Air & Space Force lineup.Flygraf
Next, we have the Flygraf, which was originally introduced in the 1970s. In this series, you can find aviation-inspired timepieces that were created in collaboration with professional pilots, resulting in a number of high-quality watches that can fulfil a pilot’s every need.Zero G
As we have mentioned, Yema acts as the official partner to a number of esteemed French institutions. The brand has also worked with France’s Space Agency, and it is this collaboration which resulted in the Zero G sub-range. The Yema Zero G comprises timepieces that were made in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the French Space Agency’s parabolic flights.
Lastly, we move on to Yema’s Digital collection, which currently has only one sub-range in the form of the Yema LED. The Yema LED lineup aims to commemorate the quartz crisis that changed the watchmaking game forever. To that end, it offers reissued models of digital icons from the 1970s. Currently, the Yema LED consists of four models, with prices that range from between $250 USD to $330 USD.
Selection of Best Yema Watches
Below are some of the best Yema watches across all its different collections.
1. Yema Meangraf Sous-Marine Y60 Ref. YMEAN22-CU31S
First up, we have the Yema Meangraf Sous-Marine Y60 Ref. YMEAN22-CU31S, which shows off a very robust and chunky-looking exterior. Despite being inspired by a watch from the 1960s, its overall look has a very modern-day vibe as well.
This Yema watch comes in a 39mm stainless steel case, with a black rubber strap and a matching black elapsed time scale bezel made of sapphire. The dial of this watch showcases a retro-inspired display, adorned with luminous square indices and sweeping sword hands. The dial is also peppered all over with vibrant yellow accents, which adds a bit of quirky playfulness to this watch. On the underside of the watch, you can find a solid caseback that is beautifully engraved with Yema’s iconic crest.
Driving this watch is an in-house YEMA2000 calibre. This is a self-winding movement with a 42-hour power reserve. It also has an excellent water resistance rating of 300 metres, far exceeding the ISO 6425 standard for dive watches. On top of that, this watch is equipped with a helium escape valve, which helps relieve the pressure in the watch when it is brought to deep underwater depths. All of this ensures that this Yema watch is a hardy dive piece that can withstand any underwater adventures.
You can get your hands on this Yema Meangraf watch for around $999 USD.
2. Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale Ref. YMN39-GMS
Next, we have the Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale Ref. YMN39-GMS. This watch is also known for being the Official Watch of the French Navy. While it may look like a classic, rugged sports watch, it is equipped with military-grade specifications that anyone can enjoy.
This Yema Navygraf watch is presented in a 39mm stainless steel case and three-link bracelet made of the same material. A unidirectional sapphire bezel in a rich blue hue is fixed to the top of the watch case, complementing the matching dark blue dial. This dial follows a very simple layout, comprising only luminescent sword hands and thick rectangular hour indices. At the bottom of the watch face, in lieu of the 6 o’clock marker, you can also find the Marine Nationale logo printed on the watch. The same French navy crest is also embossed on the watch’s caseback, further proving the legitimacy of this Yema timepiece.
An in-house YEMA2000 Calibre powers this timepiece. This is a self-winding movement that is held together by 29 rubies and has a solid 42-hour power supply. On top of that, this watch also has a depth rating of 300 metres, perfect for professionals and normal folks alike.
Despite the prestige that comes with this watch, it is actually priced quite reasonable at $849 USD.
3. Yema Pearldiver Ref. YCL1-MRM
The Yema Pearldiver Ref. YCL1-MRM, on the other hand, is a vintage-inspired timepiece based on the 1970s Yema Navygraf II. This watch has a classic diving watch look that is quite reminiscent of the popular Rolex Submariner.
This Yema Pearldiver watch sports a 38mm stainless steel case and a bracelet also made of stainless steel. Affixed to the top of the watch case is a black aluminium bezel, with blocky indicators for its elapsed time scale. This bezel blends well with the jet-black dial, which is filled with thick arrowheaded hands and beige-coloured hour markers in various geometric shapes. The hands and indices of this watch are all coated in lume, allowing for optimal legibility even in the dark. Just like the aforementioned Yema Meangraf watch, this timepiece shows off a solid steel caseback with a sophisticated engraving of the brand’s coat of arms.
Inside this watch, you can also find a YEMA2000 Calibre, which is an automatic movement with a 42-hour power supply. This dive watch also comes with a reliable depth rating of 200 metres, making it suitable for most watersports like snorkelling snd diving.
The Yema Pearldiver Ref. YCL1-MRM sells at just $749 USD.
4. Yema Superman Bronze Bordeaux Ref. YSUPZ20D39-ATPS
Next, we have the Yema Superman Bronze Bordeaux Ref. YSUPZ20D39-ATPS. This striking Yema watch has a similar vibe to the luxurious Tudor Black Bay Bronze, making it a great alternative to the acclaimed Tudor Black Bay watch. This timepiece boasts a sporty yet retro-looking design, showcasing a perfect fusion of tradition and modernity.
This Yema Superman Bronze watch is housed in a 39mm solid bronze case, paired with a black TPU strap. Fitted on top of the case is a rich, burgundy sapphire bezel, marked with thin white indicators for the elapsed time scale. The black dial, meanwhile, is decorated with large arrowhead hands, hour indices that come in a mix of circles, long rectangles and triangles, and a date window outlined in bronze at 3 o’clock. Unlike the rest of the watch case, the caseback is made out of stainless steel and is also engraved with Yema’s crest.
This watch runs on the brand’s in-house YEMA2000 Calibre, which boasts a decent power reserve of 42-hours. This bronze watch also possesses an impressive 300-metre depth rating, so you do not have to worry about getting it wet.
If you want a timepiece that will certainly age well, the Yema Superman Bronze Bordeaux Ref. YSUPZ20D39-ATPS costs about $1,399 USD.
5. Yema Superman Worldtime GMT Coke Ref. YGMT21B39-CMS
As the last model from the Diving collection, we have the Yema Superman Worldtime GMT Coke Ref. YGMT21B39-CMS. Inspired by the Hattori period in the 1990s, this watch has a rugged look and design that recalls the famous Rolex GMT-Master II Coke.
This Yema Superman Worldtime watch utilises a 39mm stainless steel case and bracelet. The highlight of the watch is easily its aluminium bezel, which is marked with a handy 24-hour GMT scale. This two-tone bezel comes in rich red and black hues, which are the exact same colours as the Coke logo, hence the watch’s resemblance to the Rolex Coke. The dial, on the other hand, comes in plain black. It is furnished with large rounded hour indices and sweeping arrowhead hands, along with an additional GMT hand that has a tip outlined in vibrant red. A date display can also be found at 3 o’clock.
All of these functions are powered by an in-house YEMA3000 Calibre. This is a GMT automatic movement. Held together by 29 jewels, it also possesses a 300-metre depth rating, so it is a great companion both for underwater adventurers and for travelling trips.
The Yema Superman Worldtime GMT Coke Ref. YGMT21B39-CMS is worth approximately $1,249 USD.
6. Yema Wristmaster Adventurer Ref. YWAD21-EU62B
Moving on to the Classic collection, we have the Yema Wristmaster Adventurer Ref. YWAD21-EU62B. This is a rare, limited-edition watch, with only 100 pieces in existence. As a modern-day reissue of the 1960s Yema Wristmaster, this is a nostalgic timepiece that is loved by old-school Yema fans.
This Yema watch is encased in a 37mm stainless steel case, coupled with a handsome leather strap in brown. This timepiece’s warm tones are completed by a soft beige dial, which is decorated with slender sword hands, applique hour indices, a date aperture outlined in silver, and a simple design of two straight lines that meet at the centre of the dial, almost like the centre of a target.
Inside this watch, you can find an in-house YEMA2000 Calibre, which can last for up to 42 hours when fully charged. It also has a 100-metre depth rating, which is an excellent water resistance capacity for a dress watch like this.
The Yema Wristmaster Adventurer Ref. YWAD21-EU62B retails at just $590 USD, making it one of the most affordable Yema watches on the market.
7. Yema Speedgraf Ref. YSPEE2019-AU31S
In this entry, we have the Yema Speedgraf Ref. YSPEE2019-AU31S, which can be found in the brand’s Motorsports collection. It is based on Yema chronograph watches from the 1960s, giving this watch a sporty and rugged neo-vintage racing design.
This Yema Speedgraf watch uses a 39mm stainless steel case and a suave rally-style leather strap in brown. Fitted to the top of the watch case is a bidirectional count-up bezel in black that is made of scratch-resistant aluminium. The dial of this watch is also slightly more complex than the previous Yema watches mentioned before. It contains applique hour indices, thick blunt hands, and two high-contrast chronograph sub-dials for the 30-minute and 60-second counters. Driving this watch is a Seiko NE86 automatic movement. Held together by 34 jewels, this powerful Seiko movement has an excellent 45-hour power reserve.
Priced at $1,549 USD, this watch is a great addition to every racing-inspired watch collection out there.
8. Yema Flygraf French Air & Space Force GMT Ref. YAA21-3AMS
Next, we have a very cool-looking watch in the form of the Yema Flygraf French Air & Space Force GMT Ref. YAA21-3AMS. On top of being the French Air & Space Force’s Official Watch, this is also a collector’s edition model that is limited to just 500 units.
This Yema Flygraf watch comes in a 39mm stainless steel case and bracelet. Both the case and bracelet are covered in PVD coating, giving the watch a sleek all-black aesthetic and bolstering its resistance to scratches. The black dial of this watch is embellished with a smooth, vertically brushed finish. It is also adorned with thick sword hands, Arabic numeral hour markers in a thin white typeface, and a date complication at 3 o’clock. Meanwhile, on the solid steel caseback, you can find a detailed engraving of the French Air & Space Force logo.
Underneath this stylish black watch face, you can find an in-house YEMA3000 Calibre. This automatic movement has a 42-hour power supply and is held together by 29 jewels.
This pilot watch sells at around $1,199 USD.
9. Yema Spacegraf Zero-G Ref. YMHF2019-AA
The Yema Spacegraf Zero-G Ref. YMHF2019-AA, on the other hand, serves as a tribute to the 30th anniversary of the French Space Agency’s parabolic flights. This is a robust and well-built watch that boasts impressive, professional-grade specifications which can easily tackle all sorts of challenging flight conditions.
This Yema Spacegraf watch is presented in a 39mm stainless steel case, coupled with a comfortable black canvas strap. On top of the watch, you can find a thick, chunky stainless steel bezel with indicators in black and vibrant red for the tachymeter scale. The textured black dial, meanwhile, boasts a luminous display with oversized sword hands, large hour markers in various geometric shapes, and a small seconds counter at 6 o’clock. Turning the watch over, you will see a solid steel caseback which is carved with the French Space Agency’s logo.
This Yema watch runs on an Epson YM90A calibre. This is an outstanding quartz calibre which possesses anti-magnetic properties and a 100-metre water resistance capacity. On top of that, it also has a remarkable battery life which can last for more than three years.
Considering all of its excellent specifications, the Yema Spacegraf Zero-G Ref. YMHF2019-AA’s price tag of just $399 makes this watch an absolute steal.
10. Yema LED Kavinsky Ref. YMHF1579KV-3AM
Lastly, we have the Yema LED Kavinsky Ref. YMHF1579KV-3AM. First launched in the 1970s, this reissued Yema watch was designed by Kavinsky to showcase a robust punk style loved by old-school fans. It has an understated and futuristic-looking design that is sure to elevate your style.
This watch utilises a 42mm x 35.5mm black case and bracelet that is water-resistant up to depths of 50 metres. The dial shows off a full LED display in dark red, which can be activated by pushing the small red button on the lower right side of the case. As a digital watch, this Yema timepiece also comes with an array of useful functions, displaying the hours (12h/24h), minutes, seconds, date, month, and year.
If you want a cool all-black digital watch, you can get this piece for only $329 USD.
After going through all of Yema’s collections and some of its most popular models, there really is no doubt that the brand offers truly excellent watches at very reasonable price points. On top of that, Yema also has an excellent reputation, representing French watchmaking in a different league. Indeed, with its diverse yet well-made catalogue, Yema is one of the best brands to check out when you are just starting on your watch collection.
Photo Credits: Yema Watches Official Site
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