Last but not least, the handset. Man, this is a gorgeous handset. Excellent proportions, easy readability with the arrow minutes hand and a broad, lume-filled body on both the hour and minutes that share the same mint-green as the hour markers. The stoplight (or shovel) seconds hand provides just a little pop of red. Now, Yema could have gone with a fauxtina, but I’m very glad they opted for green Super-LumiNova, which works just perfectly with the sunburst blue dial. Clearly, I’m a fan of the dial and handset. Yema nailed this combination in the ’70s and it holds up just as well nearly half a century later.
The Swiss heart of this French watch is an ETA 2824-2 beating away at 28.8kbph with 25 jewels, a 38-hour power reserve, and date function. In the $800-$1,500 price range, this is the go-to choice (along, more recently, with its Sellita SW-200 doppelganger). Decades of reliable action have made it the standard-bearer for what a reliable, well-priced movement should be. As expected, I’ve had no problems with the movement, and I don’t imagine many will.
Straps and Accessories
The Yema Superman Heritage Blue comes in an attractive, compact travel case whose brown leather cover keeps up the modern-vintage aesthetic. I commend Yema for providing a functional, usable case that won’t just get thrown under the bed like the rest of my wooden display cases.
The Yema Superman Heritage Blue comes with the option of either a bracelet or a black leather strap with stitching in the red, white, and blue tricolor of the French flag. My review piece came on the stainless-steel H-link bracelet that is brushed with solid center links. Though light and comfortable, I confess that I was underwhelmed by the bracelet. The main problem is that the first link contacts the lugs, resulting in the first set of links being unable to articulate fully and hang. On my 6.75” wrist, it’s not a major issue, but more of an annoyance. Coupled with the simple, stamped clasp and pin-and-collar links, the bracelet is ultimately a bit of a let-down at this price-point. And, unfortunately, the 19mm lugs mean that strap options are limited or you’re stuck with straps that are just a bit big or a bit small. That said, there are a number of 19mm tropic strap options that I think would be a fantastic pairing.
The Yema Superman Heritage Blue is, first and foremost, a damn fine-looking watch. It oozes retro style and is simply fun to wear. Is it perfect? No. The bracelet needs some refinement, and legibility (day or night) isn’t this watch’s greatest strength. I’m sure it’s perfectly capable for recreational diving and hey, it was military-issue in the ’70s, but I don’t consider this a function-first tool watch. A good contrast might be a watch like the Tudor Pelagos or Sinn U1 — watches that are directly designed around legibility and functionality, with the aesthetics a byproduct of that process. Some might use words like “utilitarian,” “severe,” “austere,” or simply “boring” to describe those watches (not me, I love those watches). If you’re in that camp and enjoy a bit of style over strict functionality, or are simply looking for a tough, functional dive watch in a visually interesting, stylish (and French) aesthetic, the Yema Superman Heritage Blue is certainly worth a look. The blue sunburst is absolutely captivating, especially when coupled with the large, square applied markers and mint green hands.
If we consider alternatives in the same price range, the Oris Divers 65, in one of its many variations, is another contender and an early progenitor of the current vintage diver trend (also consider the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf or any number of microbrand offerings). Both the Oris and Yema feature a retro aesthetic and case proportions, ETA 2824-2/Sellita SW-200 movements, boxed sapphire crystals, but are coupled with thoroughly modern case construction. The Oris may have a leg up when it comes to legibility and bracelet construction, but with a vintage re-issue like this, it’s all about how the aesthetics resonate with your own sense of style. As a watch-lover who typically gravitates to more function-forward watches, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time wearing a watch with a bit more flash and pop. It’s a watch that reminds you that it’s okay to have something seriously fun on your wrist, and it carries a price of $1,199. You can learn more at yema.com.
>Model: Superman Heritage Blue
>Price: $1,199 USD
>Size: 39 mm-wide, 13 mm-thick, 19mm lugs, and ~48mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: When I’m feeling the need for a 1970s vibe with a bit of flash.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: A fan of vintage style who’s looking for a fun, attractive piece without the baggage associated with buying vintage.
>Best characteristic of watch: Faithful, but smartly updated, reissue that stays absolutely true to the watch’s original purpose and aesthetic.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Though comfortable, the bracelet articulates poorly at the lugs and could use a more substantial clasp.