There is arguably no other segment of the modern watch market that carries the same level of fervent enthusiasm and fierce competition as the rapidly expanding integrated bracelet sports watch category. A vast assortment of brands have brought their own personal takes on the “Genta-esque” sporting timepiece to bear over the past few years, particularly on the entry-level side of the industry. While a sub-$1,000 watch of this kind was unheard of only a few short years ago, now there is a vibrant, hotly contested field of more affordable integrated designs to choose from. Independent French marque Yema is something of a dark horse in this quickly evolving market, bursting onto the scene in 2021 with the funky, athletic Wristmaster Traveller. For 2023, Yema refines this core design into a new trio of models, each sporting complex textured dials and a soft, summery color palette. The new Yema Urban Traveller collection stands as an intriguing contender in the integrated bracelet sports watch field, combining solid performance and build quality with charmingly quirky Gallic visual flair.

At 39mm-wide and 11.4mm-thick, the stainless steel case of the Yema Urban Traveller line offers a compact, balanced stance on the wrist that toes the line between vintage and modern styling. The overall case form is angular and deceptively simple at first glance, but close inspection reveals a wealth of unique stylistic choices. Viewed in silhouette, the Urban Traveller is more or less what one expects from an entry-level integrated sports watch — there’s a mildly rounded octagonal main case body, a set of polished chamfered edges breaking up a mostly linear brushed form, and a broad, vaguely non-circular raised bezel. Look beyond the broad strokes, however, and the Urban Traveller stands apart from its competitors. As a start, the main case is noticeably asymmetrical. While the 9 o’clock case side bows out gently to create a subtle curve between 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock, the corresponding 3 o’clock case side (including its integrated crown guards) abandons this curve in favor of a harsh, straight line between 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock. Yema continues this mix of slight curves and harsh angles through the integrated lugs, as well. At 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock, the case bends downward in a smooth curve to meet the integrated lug assembly, but there’s an abrupt implied transition to the central lug assemblies themselves. These central lugs are perfectly flat and planar, leading to an unusual visible “hump” in the middle of an otherwise visually uniform surface on the wrist.

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Then, there’s the bezel itself. With slightly flattened segments at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock, this chamfered bezel echoes the look of the squared-off or octagonal bezels of more famous integrated designs, without directly lifting any visual cues. It’s the six “ashtray” cutouts in the upper bezel surface that truly steal the show, however. These are classic Yema touches, dating back to the brand’s Sous-Marine collection in the ‘80s, but these sharp-edged notches give a drastically different impression to more common decorative bezel screws. Due to the fact that they continue vertical brushing that surrounds them, these cutouts can completely disappear in certain lighting conditions, while at other angles they appear like holes punched clean through the bezel surface itself. These idiosyncratic touches certainly set the Urban Traveller apart from the field, but their straightforward finishing and execution may divide enthusiast opinions. Around back, Yema fits the Urban Traveller with a solid engraved caseback featuring the brand’s heraldic shield emblem in finely detailed relief. In keeping with the design’s sporty connotations, Yema rates the watch for a solid 100 meters of water resistance.

Available in powder blue, salmon, or pale silver, the Yema Urban Traveller collection’s dials are a mix of familiar integrated cues and simple-but-effective twists on the formula. Each of the trio sports clean applied lozenge indices, basic lumed stick hands, and a needle-style seconds hand that nudges the overall layout in a more sporting visual direction. In true integrated bracelet sports watch fashion, these dials aren’t complete without a unique dial texture, but rather than tapisserie or engraved lines, Yema instead opts for a complex tessellated hexagon-and-diamond pattern. Compared to many textured dials from its competitors, however, this stamped pattern’s lines are both narrow and shallow. In practice, this means the pattern disappears from many viewing angles for a cleaner, more basic look. This is particularly true with the blue and salmon dial models, which sport matte dial surfaces that tend to mask the sense of depth and texture at play. However, from certain oblique angles, light tends to catch the very edges of the stamped grooves, creating a web of intriguing razor-thin highlights across the dial surface. Conversely, the silver dial model stands out from the pack at nearly any viewing angle, thanks to its slightly metallic dial finish and a much more readily apparent series of highlights and shadows across the dial.

Inside the Yema Urban Traveller beats the brand’s in-house YEMA2000 automatic movement. Although there are a surprising amount of in-house calibers available in integrated sports watches at this price range, the YEMA2000 offers an arguably more premium on-wrist experience in some ways, while trading off benefits in others. For example, its smooth 28,800 bph sweep is markedly more refined than some of its key competitors, although this higher beat rate leads to a rather average 42-hour power reserve. The YEMA2000’s accuracy is decent if unspectacular, averaging +10 seconds per day across our testing period.

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Of course, no discussion of an integrated bracelet sports watch is complete without examining its bracelet, and the Yema Urban Traveller’s stainless steel bracelet fits well with the overall ethos of the design. The broad-link design is clean and attractive, with smooth vertical brushing along the upper surfaces and a nearly taper-free form that gives the watch a pleasing sense of heft on the wrist. While the outer edges of the links do feature brightly polished chamfers, Yema’s take on this familiar bracelet style eschews the polished facets between links that some of its competitors feature. This leads to a more utilitarian, straightforward look than some of its rivals, but whether this is a more visually effective solution will largely come down to individual taste.

The integrated bracelet sports watch segment is more fiercely contested than ever before, particularly in the sub-$1,000 price range. Yema rises to the challenge with the Urban Traveller series, however, delivering a well-built, compelling challenger to the Swiss and Japanese giants with its own distinctive flavor. The Yema Urban Traveller collection is available to pre-order now through the brand’s e-commerce platform. MSRP for the Yema Urban Traveller stands at $890 USD as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.

Necessary Data
>Brand: Yema
>Model: Urban Traveller
>Price$890 USD
>Size: 39mm-wide, 11.4mm-thick, 43.5mm lug-to-lug
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a daily-wear sports watch, or as a stress-free choice for nights out.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Younger collectors looking for a more technically capable option in the entry-level integrated sports watch field.
>Best characteristic of watch: Balanced proportions; excellent movement for the price.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Stamped dial texture can feel shallow and elemental from some angles; case and bracelet finishing is simpler and less nuanced than some key competitors.

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