I’ve been a fan of Yema watches for the longest time, and I’m immensely stoked to review one of their most popular models, the Superman Bronze. Let’s see if it’s any good!
Yema – the Brand
Unlike most of the watch brands that I review over here at Wah So Shiok, Yema is not a microbrand. Founded in 1948 by Henry Louis Belmont, Yema boasts over 70 years of fine French watchmaking heritage. Their watches have equipped the wrists of the French Air Force, motorsports legend Mario Andretti, French spaceman Jean-Loup Chrétien, and French adventurer Jean-Louis Etienne in his 800km solo trip across the North Pole. Simply put, Yema watches have adorned the wrists of pioneers and explorers, legends who paved the way in their respective fields.
Yema is a brand that clearly has a storied past. However, like many watch brands in the late 1980s, it was significantly impacted by the quartz crisis, and quite frankly speaking became a shadow of its former self. However, that changed in 2011 when Yema announced its own in-house mechanical calibre, the MBP1000. For a watch company to develop their own in-house calibre is no mean feat – many much bigger (and expensive) brands such as Bell & Ross, Longines, Baume & Mercier, etc still do not have their own in-house movements. The announcement caused a splash in the watch community, and Yema is reborn.
Without further ado, let’s delve into the review!
Yema Superman Bronze – Build Quality
Needless to say, the specifications of the Yema Superman Bronze is absolutely terrific.
Firstly, the Yema Superman Bronze utilises a thick 2.6mm domed sapphire crystal. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to their inherent scratch-resisting properties. Personally, I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the durability of the watch. The sapphire crystal is also coated with AR coating, so you don’t have to worry about getting nasty reflections. In addition, the Superman Bronze boasts a water resistant rating of 300M, so you don’t have to worry about it getting wet!
Secondly, the case of the Superman Bronze is, as the name suggests, forged out of bronze. I enjoy the natural patina that bronze develops with age, and the unique character that it brings. As the patination of bronze depends on a variety of factors (exposure to air, water, etc), no two bronze watch patina in the exact same way. Starting as a shiny, rose-gold case, the watch will eventually patina into a rustic brown. I love the transformative effect, and personally I find a bronze case much more interesting than plain old stainless steel. Furthermore, bronze arguably looks the best on dive watches – the popularity of the Tudor Black Bay Bronze is a testament to that! In addition, the 60 click unidirectional bezel of the Yema Superman Bronze is made of sapphire for maximum scratch resistance. The bezel is satisfying to rotate, with little to no backwards play. I think the juxtaposition here will be interesting – the sapphire bezel should look as good as new even after prolonged usage, while the bronze case will inevitably look battle-scarred.
For me, the best bit of the Superman Bronze is that it is powered by Yema’s own in-house movement, the Caliber MBP1000. The creation of an in-house movement is not easy, nor is it cheap – Yema invested over 3 million euros, and poured over 4 years of R&D into engineering the MBP1000. Some specifications: it has 31 jewels, beats at 28,800 bph, possesses a power reserve of 45 hours, hacks and hand-winds. Yema states that is has a “minimum accuracy” of +/- 12 seconds a day, though “observed accuracy” is half that at +/- 6 seconds a day. For more information on the MBP1000 movement, do read more about it here!
The Yema Superman Bronze comes with the option of having it on either a military NATO or tropic rubber strap, though at this moment of writing only the tropic rubber variant is available. I don’t think that’s too much of a shame, as the tropic rubber strap is quite brilliant. It’s sturdy yet flexible, comfortable on the wrist, and I love its textured appearance. Definitely the best tropic rubber strap I’ve experienced thus far! Furthermore, the buckle is bronze and signed with the Yema logo, ensuring that it will patina nicely along the case.
The Yema Superman Bronze also comes adorned with Swiss Superluminova C5, which shines brightly in the dark. It’s not the brightest lume I’ve seen in a dive watch, but I’m definitely not disappointed with the C5 lume here.
Overall, the build quality of the Yema Superman Bronze is pretty much superb – there’s not much to find fault with. There’s a lovely domed sapphire crystal with AR coating, bronze case with sapphire bezel, an in-house movement, a wonderful tropic rubber strap, and bright Swiss Superluminova. That’s a heck of specifications, for not a lot of money.
Yema Superman Bronze – Design
Personally, I think the Superman Bronze looks terrific.
When I first cast eyes on the Yema Superman Bronze, it immediately reminded me of the Tudor Black Bay 58. It’s no surprise – the dial bears a striking resemblance. However, it’s no homage. Yema’s Superman line has been in production since 1963, and the design has remained relatively unchanged over the decades. I love that Yema draws upon its own historical designs here – a luxury that microbrands cannot afford. On the Superman Bronze, I love the gilt finishing of the applied indices, as well as the intriguing hands. In particular, I love the way the seconds hand is shaped, adorned with a red dot that complements the burgundy bezel wonderfully. There’s also the simple “France” at 6 o’clock, letting the wearer know that the Superman Bronze is a French-made watch – rare in today’s watch world. However, what stood out to me the most is the unique font of the date window. It’s a bold typeface, and instantly different to the font used on ETA/Seiko/STP/Sellita movements. I never realised what a difference a different font made until I saw the Superman Bronze. Let’s be honest – the fact that the Superman Bronze uses an in-house movement probably doesn’t make a susceptible difference in everyday usage, but every time I glance down at the dial the date window reminds me that unlike the majority of small watch brands out there, the Yema Superman Bronze uses an in-house movement that can’t be found anywhere else.
When the Superman was first introduced in 1963, it was developed as a serious dive watch, meant for actual divers. Thus, the brand came up with a bezel lock function, in order to prevent the bezel from accidentally rotating. As divers often depend on the bezel to tell elapsed time, an accidental bezel rotation can potentially render the diver incapable of knowing how much oxygen he has left in the tank. Personally, I think this is quite a neat idea, and I love the way it conveys the tool watch nature of the Superman Bronze. It’s also leads to quite a distinctive look, and helps differentiate the Superman Bronze from the plethora of dive watches out in the market today.
I’ve been waxing lyrical about the Yema Superman Bronze thus far, but unfortunately it’s not perfect. The biggest – possibly only – flaw of the watch is its misaligned bezel. As you can see from the photo above, the bezel does not line up with the 12 o’clock marker. At first, I thought that it might be just an issue on my particular model, but after viewing some of the product shots on Yema’s social media and website it seems to be a problem that plagues production models in general. How affected you are by this depends on how OCD you are. Personally, while I’m annoyed by the issue, it’s not a deal breaker for me – though it very well might be for you.
Moving on to the case, I have to say that I absolutely adore the curvature of the case. Look at how the case is sculpted – that’s absolutely beautiful. The screw-down crown is equally lovely as well, nicely signed in detail. It’s substantially sized, making winding the watch an ease. I also want to point out that I love the domed sapphire crystal. Its thickness reminds me of the acrylic crystals found on vintage watches, and there’s a depth to it that’s wondrous.
The caseback of the Superman Bronze is pretty neat, with a recessed portion upon which one finds a nicely embossed artwork of the Yema logo. There’s also a unique number on the first 100 watches of the Superman Bronze – mine’s 53/100, as seen in the photo above. I appreciate the fact that Yema actually bothered to inscribe a unique serial number on the caseback, instead of simply putting “1 of 100” on all 100 watches which I have seen some microbrands do. Lastly, I fond the circular brushing on the lugs to be a nice touch as well. In case you’re wondering, the caseback of the Superman Bronze is made from steel and not bronze as bronze leaves behind a green residue when it patinas, which can trigger allergic reactions on the skin.
On my 7 inch wrist, the 39mm dimensions of the Yema Superman Bronze wears brilliantly. Again, the way the Superman Bronze wears reminds me of the Tudor Black Bay 58 – the proportions are almost the same. What I loved most was how thin the Superman Bronze felt, which is a stark difference compared to the majority of dive watches in the market. Although the thickness is listed as 13mm, a big chunk of that is actually the 2.6mm thick sapphire crystal. Therefore, the watch itself feels very slim – almost like a dress watch!
All in all, I love the aesthetics of the Superman Bronze. The gilt dial is lovely, the burgundy sapphire bezel is striking, the bronze case is beautiful, and curvaceous angles of the case are amazing, and the way the watch wears is magnifique. The only qualm I have is the misaligned bezel, which is a shame.
Shootout: Yema Superman Bronze vs Oris Divers 65 Bronze
If you’re looking for a more affordable (sub-S$2000), yet still respectable alternative to the Tudor Black Bay 58, the Oris Divers 65 Bronze is definitely one of the main contenders. As such, it shall be the competition to the Yema Superman Bronze in this shootout!
In terms of specifications, the Yema Superman Bronze triumphs over the Oris Divers 65. Both watches use a domed sapphire crystal, and Swiss Superluminova. However, the Superman Bronze possesses an in-house movement, while the Divers 65 uses the respectable, but ultimately rather generic Sellita SW 200-1 movement. Furthermore, the Superman Bronze features a full bronze case, and a scratch-resistant sapphire bezel. In comparison, only the ring of the bezel on the Divers 65 is forged from bronze, and the bezel itself is merely DLC black. As such, the Superman Bronze definitely has the better specifications.
From an aesthetics point of view, the fight is definitely closer. Both watches clearly share a similar design language, evoking the looks of dive watches from the 1960s. There’s no denying that both are great lookers. That said, if I had to choose, I’ll probably still pick the Superman Bronze. It has the more intriguing looking hands, a unique date font, a striking burgundy bezel, and features Yema’s proprietary bezel lock system. The Divers 65, while a thoroughly handsome watch in its own right, simply doesn’t look as different. However, it looks like Oris managed to get the bezel to align on the Divers 65, at least judging from the Dink’s photo. The Divers 65 is very similar in proportions to the Superman Bronze too, at 40mm wide and 13mm thick. Thus, if the bezel misalignment is a deal breaker for you, the Oris Divers 65 is still a terrific alternative in my opinion!
While the MSRP of the Oris Divers 65 is $2000 USD, it can currently be found on the grey market (Jomashop) for $1395 USD. Nevertheless, even taking the grey market pricing of the Divers 65 into account, it is still substantially more expensive (~S$300) than the Yema Superman Bronze. As such, unless the misaligned bezel is a deal breaker, I believe the Superman Bronze to triumph over the Divers 65 in this shootout.
Conclusion – so the Yema Superman Bronze “shiok” or not?
There’s a lot to like about the Yema Superman Bronze. First and foremost, you’re getting an in-house movement for ~S$1695 – Seiko/Orient aside, that has to be the most affordable watch with an in-house movement available in the market today. Secondly, the Superman Bronze oozes a wonderful vintage vibe, and differentiates itself through several intriguing aesthetic features. Lastly, the watch wears brilliantly on the wrist too. If you’re able to stomach the misalignment of the bezel, I think the Superman Bronze would be a terrific value proposition.
For those interested, Yema is currently – at this time of writing – holding a 15% sale store-wide. Simply message the Yema team by clicking the green chat icon in the bottom right corner of their website to get the code! After the discount, the Yema Superman Bronze can be had for just $1189 USD/ ~S$1695, which in my opinion is an amazing price given the build quality of the watch. I should also highlight that Yema has a live chat support function, so if you have any queries about any of their watches feel free to talk to one of their team members! They got back to me almost instantly (under 5 minutes), and it was always a human on the other end, not a chatbot. Kudos to Yema for that!
View the full range of Yema watches here.
Diameter: 39 mm
Thickness: 13 mm
Lug: 19 mm
Scratch-resistant sapphire bezel with burgundy insert
Unidirectional 0-60 scale count-up bezel
Screw-down crown, vintage YEMA logo engraved
2,60 mm thick domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflection treatment
30 BAR / 990 Feet / 300 m
MBP1000 French In-House Movement
Self winding with ball bearings rotor
28 800 A/h
Minimum accuracy of +/- 12 seconds per day
Observed accuracy of +/- 6 seconds per day
Adjustments and checks made before and after assembly by our watchmakers
Hours, minutes, seconds
Date at 3 o’clock
Dark matte black
Applied hour markers featuring metal surrounds with gold finish
Iconic “Arrow” hours and “Shovel” seconds hands with gold finish
Heritage black TPU strap (similar to rubber) or NATO nylon khaki strap
Made of PVD bronze and engraved with YEMA’s historical logo
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!