1733 buyers. 832 399 €. These are the results of the Yema kickstarter campaign to launch the new Yema Wrismaster Adventurer and Wristmaster Traveller in november, 2021. The rebirth of the Yema Wristmaster is already a success. It gives me a good opportunity to come back on a saga which is less known than the Yema Superman story, but at least as important (if not more) in the brand success story threw years.
Born in the 60’s
1958. Yema is honored with the Export French Oscar which awards its first place on the french exporting companies podium. 1959. First press advertising campaigns. 1961. Yema produces 300.000 timepieces a year and builds a brand new and modern factory in its birth town, Besançon.
I hope you have pledged for a Wristmaster during the Kickstarter Period. You will have the privilege to receive the YEMA anthology, Time of Heroes, written by my friend Marie-Pia Coustans. You didn’t ?! You may try to comfort yourself by reading YEMA, un homme, une marque, the retrospective I wrote for Le Club Yema 3 years ago (3 years ?! Already ?! Oh, my God.).
In these years of strong competition on the watchmaking market, including among the french brands, Yema was very concerned about positioning its watches in the field of reliability and ease of maintenance. For the final customers, and for the watchmaking end jewelry retail network as well.
This is how the YEMA Wrismaster was born, spearheading a new collection of watches. The launch of this new timepieces collection was based on a twofold promise: for the final customer, reliability and waterproofing (fun fact: the collection was mainly composed of dress watches…). For the retailer, easy service thanks to spare parts and supplies kits.
The first Wrismaster models have a very characteristic caseback, with a magnificent gold-plated crest.
Reliable and waterproof watches
No need of long speeches. Here is gallery made of press advertising. They all have in commun a picture with a watch movement sealed in a cube of synthetic resin, and the punchline “Comme s’il était isolé dans ce cube, le mécanisme d’une montre Yema est parfaitement protégé“, meaning “As if isolated in this cube, the mechanism of a Yema watch is perfectly protected“.
However my favorite advertisings are the following. They would be impossible to publish nowadays.
Please, ladies, don’t be so selfish. Could you think about your man, too, for once? Christmas is coming. See what I mean? But when it’s done, don’t forget Yema also has nice watches for you…
Hey, Babe! What about a little smoke after your sportive fishing session? Good for you, good for your ealth…
Sorry. I have to leave you now. I’ve got a meeting in 20 minutes with James Bond on board of a submarine at 40m depth (130 feet). No thanks. I don’t need a dive watch. Nor a gadget Rolex or Omega. I’ve got my Yema Wrismaster.
Wristmaster, service included
No internet in the sixties. No on line business. Brands have very few direct contact with the final customer. Reason why they need to maintain the best relationship as possible with the watchmaking and jewelry retailers. Henry-Louis Belmont, Yema founder, was very aware of it and always kept a great attention to his distribution network. The launch of the collection was accompanied by the creation of spare parts boxes and a leak tester, the YEMA 04-A, distributed to retailers, as much to encourage them to promote the merits of the brand as to facilitate the maintenance of Yema watches. Dedicated advertising were published in professional magazines.
It is quite easy to find these boxes on your favorite auction website. When lucky, you find in them technical documents… or collection leaflet:
Did you notice the fact that, one excepted, all these dress watches are presented with a rubber tropic strap?
The YEMA Submarine
“We all live with a Yema Submarine, Yema Submarine, Yema Submarine…”. Uh, please, could you be serious just for a minute? I’m trying to write something intelligent…
Probably you have already seen the well known press advertising about the YEMA Wristmaster, “La montre à Service complet”. But did you ever pay attention to the strange Submarine mention ? What does that mean?
Answer: the Yema Submarine, Yema Sous-marine, Yema Wristmaster were parts of the same collection.
Look at this advertising:
It is quite interesting to discover that Yema has created its Yema Submarine at the end of the 50’s while “James Bond Dr No” was making famous the mythic Rolex Submariner, created in 1954. Probably not the product of chance. Could have Yema tried to take advantage of the Rolex watch notoriety? Why was the first Yema Submarine a dress watch and dot a dive one, which would have been more consistent with its name? This remains a mystery to me. However, the “Submarine” did not stay long in the Yema collection. You’re lucky and find a Yema Submarine in your vintage watch retailer or favorite auction website? Don’t miss it.
I’m very fond of the “Submarine/Sous marine” callygraphic font, which remind me of the Speedmaster or Railmaster Omega fonts. Maybe this is not totally a coincidence…
Just for fun, this font, and the small second subdial as well, were my inspiration when I took part to the “Yema Collabs contest” in 2019. The winner was Marin Ravenel with his Pearl Diver, still in the brand catalog.
Vintage Wristmaster and Sous-marine, a wide collection for vintage watch addicts
Threw years, Yema produced a long and large collection of Yema Wrismaster, and even more Sous-marine watches and chronographs, until the 80’s. If some chronographs have reached high prices, it is still possible to build a pretty cool collection for a budget within the reach of everyone, or almost.
At the end of the article, you will find a gallery with more pictures. However a few of these watches are quite rare. Especially this one. Nothing in common with a Rolex Submariner, of course…
The Yema Wristmaster monocoque
Our little travel threw past wouldn’t be complete if I forgot mentioning the Wristmaster “monocoque”, the only Wristmaster able to dive to deep depth with the 660 feet version. Here after, a press advertising with a “scale 1:1” representation of the watch. This watch had its own spare spare parts box, including acrylic crystals with the technical leaflet. The Wrismaster “monocoque” is also one, if not he only, sportive watch to have its female version in Yema collection at that time.
Eliptical watches have had their moment of glory. The Wristmaster monocoque has been produced for other brands, such as Jacquet Droz.
Cyclop lens… or not?
Despite the fact that all the Wristlady watches I found had a cyclop lens, I have been persuaded, for long, that the male version of the Yema Wrismaster had none. The very few items that I had the opportunity to “meet” had cyclop lenses which size really did not suit the watch. They could not be genuine YEMA glasses.
However, while I was preparing this article, my look was caught by a tiny detail on a press advertising. What?!!
Unfortunately, Yema vintage watch collectors know that advertising at that time were not very reliable. If you look better at the documents previously displayed in this article, you will notice hat there is no lens on the Wristmaster image in the “spare parts box leafleat”. But it’s not the same Wristmaster model. What to conclude? Was there a lens on some models and not on others? The mistery remains. But one thing is for sure: my wife, children and friends think I’ve lost my mind to be so exited by such a meaningless question…
Automatic vs manual winding Wristmaster
Good to know. There as been automatic and manual winding verions of he Yema Wristmaster.
The automatic Wrismaster is animated with an ETA 2472 automatic movement. The manual winding movement of the other one is a Jeambrun 23DC. Both have a “Roulette date” disc with alternatively black or red date.
Late Yema Wrismasters
The Yema Wristmaster was produced until the late 70’s. Look at the following pictures. Both “Wristmaster” and “Sous-marine” texts were printed on the dial. Yema designers could not choose…
Reborn in 2021
An now comes what you are desperately waiting for. The YEMA Wrismaster Adventurer and Wirstmaster Traveller review!
YEMA Wrismaster Adventurer: heir to the past
There is no need of long speeches to understand that the Yema Wrismaster adventurer is the direct heir of the 60’s Wrismaster. Middle case shape, indexs and dial, hands shape… A lot of details in this watch remind of its elders. A few pictures should convince you very easily:
But you will notice, in the same time, that the 2021 edition is less sophisticated. No sunray dial, bigger crown, rather raw middle case shape. The “adventurer” name and the quite “rough” strap and buckles confirm the sensation. This watch is not a dressed watch. It is a daily watch you don’t have to bother about.
However, do not misunderstand my point. The watch finishing is pretty good. Let’s look at that closer.
The Yema Wrismaster middle case has got two very contrasted finishing: vertical brush on the main surface, mirror polished flanks. The over sized crown is very easy to handle.
I like the vintage touch brought by the thick (almost 2 mm) double dome hesalite crystal.
The Wrismaster adventurer keeps the brand typical caseback, with the Yema coat of arms. This watch is equiped with the second improved version of the YEMA 2000 caliber. The Yema Wrismaster adventurer is 10 ATM Waterproof. Perfect and reassuring for a daily use.
The polished steel applied indices bring to the YEMA Wrismaster adventurer a perfect readability.
Each indice is completed with a white lume dot marker.
The BGW9 brightness is perfect.
The 48mm lug to lug length is the same as for the YEMA Superman. As far as I’m concerned, it would have seemed relevant to shorten them a little to rebalance the whole given the absence of any bezel.
Yema inaugurates a new box, round, very nice. You shall pay attention to the consequence: it rolls! Do not let the box opened with your watch in it…
YEMA Wrismaster Traveller | The story goes on
When discovering the YEMA Traveller for the first time there is an evidence: Christopher Bole, who designed the watch, did a great job. It is very difficult not to be seduced by this case shape, with taut lines and beveled edges that continue on the integrated bracelet links, which is of course reminiscent of the famous Audemar Piguet Royal Oak. No doubt however. It’s a Yema.
A foot in the past, another in the future
It has been a real pleasure to play with the light for the following pictures, in order to catch the contrasts between the flat brushed surfaces and the mirror polished bevelled edges of both middle case and bezel.
But where do these strange cavities and strange bezel shape come from? These cavities remind me of something. Let’s dive into the old papers and photo archives. Yes ! I knew it! They obviously are a wink to the design of this alarm watch of the late 70’s, probably one of the last watches designed by Jean Müller, with an easy recognizable middle case. I will tell you more about it one day.
The watch is heavy. You will feel its presence on the wrist. As far as I am concerned, I di like this sensation.
The readability of the watch is excellent. I’m fond of the very precise cutting of the very thick indices. Look at this: 13 LumiNova layers, tells us Yema on its official website!
However, I’m not a great fan of Super LumiNova® OLD RADIUM color. In fact I am curious to know what the Wrismaster traveller could have looked like with snow white markers and hands. I think it would have brought a touch of modernity which should suit a contemporary timepiece perfectly.
The greatest Yema caseback… is back
The Yema Wrismaster has had 3 kind of caseback. From left to right on the following picture:
- Domed gold plated caseback, with ten flat segments to unscrew it. The original one, printed on the advertisings of the very first Wristmasters, ref 8715 “All Steel’ and ref 8716 “Gold plated 20M”. Wonderful, but too fragile. It was very quickly replaced by the solid steel one.
- Domed solid steel case. More common. However my favorite, with probably the most magnificent crest that Yema ever engraved on its watches.
- Flat case back. It equipped the manual winding Wrismasters
The Wristmatser Traveller caseback is the worthy successor of the original. Yema did a great job. I hope they will keep it for future productions.
The circular brushed finishing highlights the lumpy surface of the crest background.
The solid steel strap is made of short links which fit well on the wrist. The polished bevelled edges are perfectly in line with the continuity of case. Their satin brushed surface is warm. The whole provides a sensation of high quality.
You will need a pin remover to adjust your bracelet to the right size. As the butterfly clasp is not adjustable, you may find it a bit difficult to get the right length and you could have to choose between a bit too tightened or a bit too loose depending on your wrist size.
But once you have found the right adjustment for your strap, the watch sits very comfortably on your wrist. It’s now time to appreciate its presence on your wrist. For sure, you’ll make people jealous!
“Et voilà.” I hope that this review has excited your brain cells and will be happy to read your comments. Thank you, Yema, for lending me these two Wrismaster watches.
Do not forget to share this review with friends, mistress, wife, lover… Yes. With pets too if you wish. Follow me on Instagram thread Jerry_watches in order to be informed of the next article.
Most of all, take care of you and people you love. Life is short.
Wow, wow, wow… Where are you going ?! Did you intend to leave without watching at the pictures gallery bellow ?! Shame on you.
See you 😉