If you’re looking for a dive watch with vintage aesthetics and modern materials, there is no shortage of options to choose from. However, the options become slightly slimmer if you think your dive watch should have some historical significance, and Yema is one of the brands that has you covered with the latter.
Yema has been around since 1948, and the Superman was launched in 1963. The Superman has gone through various iterations before landing on what we’re looking at today. The newly released Yema Superman 500 contains the in-house caliber YEMA2000 and is aimed squarely at the crowd looking for vintage skin-diver aesthetics with purely modern materials. Let’s take a closer look.
On the Wrist
I’ve tried on various Yema dive watch models throughout the years, and if there is one thing Yema does exceptionally well with their models, it is consistency. If you try one Yema dive watch, you can be confident about how the rest will fit. This is true of the Superman 500. The same thin mid-case present in their other dive watches is paired with long, flat lugs that make the Superman 500 sit slightly tall on the wrist. I could argue this has more to do with the thick caseback than the lug design, but 6 of one, half dozen of the other.
I usually cover bezel action in one of the later sections of my reviews, but the unique bezel lock on the Superman 500 deserves to be put here for a good reason. Yema’s dive watches have a small locking mechanism linked to the crown. When the crown is screwed down, the lock tightens against the bezel and keeps it from moving. This is the most secure bezel one could ask for if you’re concerned about it being bumped out of place. However, this presents a problem for us desk divers that use our bezels to time important things, like how long the chicken nuggets have been in the oven. You must unscrew the crown to use the dive bezel. Not a deal breaker, but it can lead to funky wrist maneuvers to accomplish the task.
The Superman 500 comes in 2 flavors, 39 and 41mm. I had the 39mm in for review, and the specs for a 500-meter dive watch are very respectable. 13.4mm thick with a lug to lug of 48mm and a wrist-to-crystal of 13mm makes this attractive for various wrist sizes. The Superman 500 does feature a heavily domed crystal, which takes up almost 3mm of the total case height. Even with the wrist-to-crystal being 13mm, it still looks thin on the wrist. The 19mm lug width is rather annoying, but the 41mm offers a more standard 20mm lug width.
Yema Superman 500 Specs
The Superman 500 is vintage-inspired through and through. The dial layout is simple and straightforward, harking back to a time before paragraphs of text were placed on watch dials. It is also built for supreme legibility with high contrast markers and large hands.
The large minute hand almost gives the Superman 500 a regulator watch vibe when compared to the size of the hour hand. There is no question what it is pointing at when using the dive time bezel or reading the time. My favorite hand is the seconds hand with its stop light-esque look. The hands and markers are all filled with aged lume, which isn’t a personal preference of mine, but it fits well with the design of the Superman 500.
The branding text from the Yema Y logo down to AUTOMATIQUE forms a pyramid-like shape as it gets wider. This seems relatively insignificant but is a small design choice that shows off well.
The bezel was a pleasant surprise on the Superman 500. Previous Superman bezels underwhelmed me, but this one has been reworked to have a little more bite. Each click feels snappy with little to no back play, exactly what I am looking for in a $1,000+ dive watch.
Case and Bracelet
As I mentioned above, the case can sit flat and tall on the wrist, mainly due to the large caseback to help accommodate the 500 meters of water resistance. While I appreciate Yema’s effort in overengineering this watch, I wouldn’t have minded a millimeter or two shaved off the case height and 300 meters or less of water resistance, and I know I won’t be going that deep.
That said, the case finishing is executed wonderfully. The brushing grain looks perfect, and the highly polished areas shine beautifully without blemishes. The Superman 500 gives off all the flair of a dress diver but packs in the credentials of a purpose-built diver.
If there is one demon in Yema’s closet that they seem to have corrected with the Superman 500, it is the bracelet. Yema had a tendency to do strange things with their bracelets resulting in the first link sticking out too far or not articulating fully to drape around the wrist. None of that is present on the jubilee-style bracelet mounted on the Superman 500. The links aren’t as small as a run-of-the-mill jubilee; the center links are elongated and give the bracelet a more refined look. The bracelet is extremely comfortable thanks to the jubilee-style construction.
I would like to see Yema put a little more into the clasp. It’s a fine clasp, but that’s all it is. We live in a world where $500 watches have quick-release bracelets and quick-adjust clasps. There is no excuse anymore for a $1,000+ watch not to have at least one of those things. People want it, and some will go as far as to avoid buying a watch without those features present.
This is the first Yema I got to spend some quality time with. I’ll admit to being curious about the cult-like following they seem to have, as I wasn’t sure of the appeal, and the Superman 500 made me see that a little more clearly. There is a definite charm to this watch and where many watches try and fail to do vintage-inspired, it is baked into Yema’s recipe.
This looks like a watch resurrected from the 1970s, but it feels like a watch made in this decade. Sure, there are a few things I would like to see Yema continue to work on (like the clasp), but I would have no qualms recommending this watch to someone who wants a properly done vintage-inspired dive watch.
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