I've had an itch for a vintage-inspired diver for quite a while, largely ignited by the release of Certina's DS PH200M and also by watches such as the Oris 65 series. The first I found way too large, and the second just didn't come to fruition. The itch continued. Then one day, I stumbled upon Yema's Superman Heritage. The moment this timepiece appeared on my screen, I was sold. Something about it just spoke to me and drew me in. Fast forward to now – you're reading this review.
Yema is a French company with heritage – founded in 1948, they have impressive landmarks such as the first French watch in space and racer Mario Andretti wearing their watches. Lately Yema also started developing their own in-house movement. Some specs before we dive in:
Lug width: 19mm
Movement: The review watch has the ETA2824-2, but Yema has moved to use the Sellita SW200-1
Bracelet: 316L Stainless Steel with wetsuit extension and 4 micro-adjustment holes
Bezel: Aluminium, 120-click with bezel-lock system
Crystal: Domed Sapphire
The Superman is a re-issue to a Yema watch from 1970, ref. 53.00.16 (see picture) – it's almost the exact watch. Yema claims they've used 3D modelling to get the watch to be as accurate as possible to the original diver.
Yema describes the Superman's as a "vintage black dial" and while I'm unsure exactly what the author meant, I think they nailed it. It's really hard to describe black, it's something that has to be seen in real life to be appreciated – it's beautiful. The applied markers have a nice crème vintage hue, which some would define as "fauxtina", although it is done very gently here – nothing too excessive, much more refined than, for example, the Tudor Black Bay's gilt.
The watch is highly readable thanks to the hands; I cannot place them in an exact "family" of hands but I guess they're related to arrows. The watch is very readable, with the long big minute hand extending until the minute indices, making reading the time at a glance very easy. The seconds hand is definitely unique here – "shovel hand" – I love the red tip. The superluminova lume is nothing to write home about, which is a disappointing aspect about the Superman.
The domed sapphire crystal creates a distortion effect viewed in different angles which contributes much to the vintage feel and style of the Superman, I enjoy looking at it from the sides and seeing the dial pop and distort – some may like that less.
Case & Finish
The 39mm case is polished entirely, and while you cannot really admire a fine finishing with your eyes here, the case does its job well and I find it aesthetically pleasing. The lugs are quite long which could deter some from the watch, but I guess the Superman needs to fly somehow right? Measuring 48 mm lug to lug, and despite the long lugs, I think the Superman can be pulled off on thinner wrists as well. Drilled lugs allow a comfortable and quick change of straps, which brings us to the bracelet.
The bracelet style somewhat resembles a jubilee bracelet but not exactly, it has 5 pieces, with only two polished links and brushed in-between. Aesthetically it flows well with the case but the big thing that disrupts it is the obvious difference between the polished case and brushed bracelet; no idea why Yema went with that. While it's not a biggie for me, it could be a deal-breaker for some. I also found a small gap between the bracelet and lug, which was disappointing and not expected from a company from Yema's caliber.
The bracelet is comfortable, not a single hair pulled while wearing it and feels silky nice on the wrist. It looks vintage but feels modern, if that makes sense. Fitting for a 300m diver watch, there's a wetsuit extension which works well. The bracelet uses a pin system (think SKX) and has 4 micro-adjustment holes, I had no problem finding the perfect fit for my 7" wrist – I like my watches a little loose, so you can shove one finger beneath the bracelet.
The aluminum bezel is sweet aesthetically with its minute markings and tiny lume pip, the problem is that it has a lot of play and does not align 100% with the dial (another department it shares with the SKX). The twist is that you probably won't be turning this 120-click bezel a lot, due to the unique bezel-lock system which is a Yema trademark, sort of. It sort of looks like a cage and its function is simply to lock the bezel. As long as the crown is screwed in, the lock is tight in place and the bezel won't turn; two turns of the crown to unscrew it let the lock loose and the bezel can be rotated. The bezel-lock system makes sense until you think about what a diver does when he needs to use the bezel underwater.
I have read somewhere that during the 60's/70's many dive watches had bidirectional bezels which could very easily turn unintentionally, so perhaps that makes sense if we remember that this is a re-issue for a watch released in 1970.
The venerable ETA 2824-2 powers the Yema Superman Heritage. Not much to say about it that is not known – 38-hour power reserve, hacking and hand-wind, 28,800 bph. Recently Yema switched to using the Sellita SW200-1, with which I have no experience, but I was told by Yema that all movements are regulated prior to shipping, which seems to be the case with my Superman that is very accurate. As mentioned earlier, Yema has developed their own in-house movement, and I wonder why it couldn't be used in the Superman as well – perhaps because they want to remain true to the heritage, original watch which used an ETA movement?
I don't care much for packaging normally but I did like the Yema's. The watch arrived with a nice leather case with the Yema logo, which can also be used as a travel case. The package includes a warranty card, manual and a document stating that the watch has been tested and regulated before shipment.
Price & Summary
The price is $1099, I believe you can receive a 10% discount if you contact the very responsive chat representatives on Yema's website. The watch arrives with two years of warranty. I think that the price would be more justified if the watch came with an extra strap, and perhaps if the finishing was a hair better. This watch oozes tons of style and its quirkiness is part of what makes it so cool. It remains true to its vintage origins, maybe too much in some departments, but the "magic" of the piece buys me over, though they could be a dealbreaker for other WIS. If you like vintage divers I think you'll like the Yema Superman Heritage, it's a delight to behold in real life.
Some "pros and cons" to finish the review:
- Aesthetically does well to capture the look of 60s-70s divers.
- Comfortable bracelet with drilled lugs allowing for a quick change of strap.
- Heritage – Yema is a respectable company, and this piece comes with history.
- Beautiful domed sapphire crystal that makes the watch pop.
- Impressive and useful packaging.
- Movement is regulated prior to shipping.
- Warranty for 2 years.
- Great customer service.
- There's play in the bezel which doesn't 100% align with the dial, which is very disappointing.
- Lazy finishing (unless it's intentional).
- Stark difference between the brushed bracelet and the polished case.
- Long lugs.
- Could include another strap, as is done by other watch companies.
- Unless I'm missing something, I don't understand why the in-house movement wasn't used.
- Price could be lower.
Thanks for reading!