For the more regular readers of Deployant, Yema is perhaps a name that rings a bell. Known for its well-priced vintage-inspired timepieces, the French watch manufacturer had certainly gained a fair share of fans since it started to market itself more widely in the last few years. Here is our review of the latest Yema Superman 500.
We have recently gotten our hands on one of Yema’s latest novelties: Superman 500. While it was introduced in end-June, we have had the opportunity to spend some time with the timepiece prior. Here are our thoughts on the watch.
Yema Superman 500
Prices for the Yema Superman 500 begin at US$1,049 (approximately S$1,474).
The new timepiece is an extension to the well-received Superman collection, whose roots can be traced back to 1963. This series is one of the mainstays of the brand, with its rather handsome old-school aesthetics, as well as its attractive price point and in-house movement.
Some of the more notable features of the new Superman 500 is its water resistance level – which is now at 500m, as suggested by its nomenclature. We also understand that improvements have been made to the crown and crown tube, bezel, as well as the brand’s signature bezel lock mechanism.
On the first impression, the Superman 500 is still a good-looking piece, as with its other Heritage Divers.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
Similar to most Yema watches, the Superman 500 is available in different case sizes: 39mm and 41mm. For this particular review, we were loaned the larger 41mm timepiece.
The first thing that struck us about the watch is its polished case. The stainless steel watch is well-polished, with the sort of refinement that you will probably expect from a timepiece that is priced several times over the Yema. We were rather impressed, but at the same time confused as well. This is a diver’s watch after all, and being a tool watch, it is bound to be used heavily and tested under challenging environments. While the polished case – which we greatly appreciate – is done rather nicely, we reckon a brushed case might be more practical and be less of a scratch magnet.
Next, we move on to the bezel. According to Yema, the bezel has been redesigned, with new micro drilling in strategic areas of the case right under the bezel allowing for optimized rotation of the bezel click spring and a more precise alignment of the bezel insert. In addition, we also understood that the bezel lock system – which is a signature of the brand – is more secure. Compared to the Yema timepiece that we had reviewed previously, the modifications indeed have a positive effect; the watch definitely feels more solid, whereas the older pieces are slightly more raw and industrial.
On the note of the bezel, we have a minor gripe with the bezel insert. For some reason, a minor portion of the applied markers on the bezel insert appear to come off after some casual usage. We do hope that it is an isolated case, especially since this is a tool watch after all and it should be able to withstand heavy usage.
Dial-wise, Yema had retained a classic approach with the use of design elements that were similar to its diver’s watches of the yesteryear. Interestingly, it is also noted that Yema had omitted the date window at the 3 o’clock position – which gives the watch a more symmetrical and clean look.
As for the hands, the Superman 500 is fitted with a pair of arrow hands. The second hand also features the shape of a shovel, which pays homage to the older Superman models in the 1970s. Both the hands, 12 o’clock marker on the bezel, as well as the indices on the dial, are treated with Super-LumiNova Grade A to ensure legibility in the dark. Insofar under low light conditions during our review period, the Superman 500 had performed up to the task.
The Movement: YEMA2000
Powering the new Superman 500 is the second generation of the in-house developed YEMA2000. The self-winding movement is touted to perform better than similar “Standard Grade” movements, with an accuracy of +/- 10 seconds a day and an autonomy of 42 hours.
As noted earlier, the Superman 500 has omitted the date complication. We were informed that for this movement, there are no hidden date indicators, nor a phantom date position on the crown.
Given that the watch is fitted with a closed caseback, we are unable to ascertain the finishing of the movement. Based on our understanding, as well as pictures online, we understand that the watch has an industrial level of finishing. This is not unexpected for a timepiece of this price range, and this is in line with the other base grade movements as well.
The new Superman 500 is available in two case sizes (39mm and 41mm), with three different strap options. Notably, the watch can be fitted with a leather strap, rubber strap, or a metal bracelet. The prices of the watch begin at US$1,049 (approximately S$1,474).
At this price point, we also do expect some serious challengers, especially with the proliferation of micro-brands in today’s market.
The first watch that we have is the Tissot Seastar 2000 Professional. The 44mm timepiece certainly pulls no punches, especially with its depth rating (600m) and technical performance. It is also a rather handsome piece, especially with the PVD-coated case and gradient blue dial with wave motifs. The only drawback is its slightly imposing size, but at S$1,580, there is really nothing much to find fault with this timepiece.
Next, we have another timepiece with some history as well: Bulova Oceanographer 96B350. This 41mm watch features a bright orange dial, which contrasts very nicely with the bi-colour bezel insert. We love how bold and striking this timepiece is, and this will certainly add a lot of vibrancy to one’s watch collection. It is priced at US$750 (approximately S$1,054), and we reckon it is a good option for someone who is looking for a rather casual timepiece.
We finally have the Dietrich Skin Diver SD-1. The Skin Diver SD-1 offers collectors something different from the usual suspects, with its slightly funky and more contemporary design cues. We also love the incorporation of classic elements (such as the crosshair on the dial), as well as the exquisitely-made bracelet. The 38.5mm Skin Diver SD-1 is priced similarly at US$1,050 (approximately S$1,476).
The Yema Superman 500 is an aesthetically pleasing watch. We like how Yema had retained the main DNA of the Superman, with new tweaks – both technically, as well as the omission of the date complication. The latter is perhaps more conspicuous and tangible, and we really appreciate the cleaner image of the new timepiece.
Our loaner was also fitted with a rubber strap. We have to say that the rubber strap is extremely comfortable on the wrist, which makes the watch a joy to wear. Special mention must also be made to the deployant clasp, which we thought was rather solid and well-engineered too.
The only gripe that we had with the Superman 500 was the bezel insert. Unfortunately, even with very light usage, a minor portion of the printed bezel markers had come off. Considering that the watch is also fitted with the unique bezel lock system, the mechanism may also be prone to scratch the surface of the bezel insert, resulting in some portion of the printed markers coming off.
Overall, the Superman 500 offers a compelling timepiece into the arena – although the competition at the price category is surely heating up. While Yema has done rather well so far, we feel that they might have to aggressively improve and develop new watches, to ward off some of the competitors in the scene (which includes both established and emerging brands).