For the Yema enthusiast that I am, each announcement of a coming new watch is an exciting matter, should I be disappointed or not by the product.
The Yachtingraf bronze chronograph that will be produced in a limited edition of only 200 numbered items couldn’t let me indifferent. YEMA agreed to lend me a prototype for a few days. I’m very pleased to share with you my impressions.
The YEMA Yachtingraf is a grail for the brand collectors. Its notoriety goes far beyond the borders of France. Consequently this review is also a good opportunity to have a little flashback before having a closer look at this brand new bronze version.
The YEMA Yachtingraf patent
The YEMA Yachtingraf story began on June 30, 1966 when Yema officially claimed in France its priority on the idea, first step in the patenting procedure that allows to have effects in other countries. For the US, YEMA filled in a demand in 1967 and the patent has been granted on Februray, 1969 with the number 3,427,800. Yema followed he same procedure in Switzerland. The patent was registered on December, 1969 under the number 483 047. At the end of the article, you will be able to download the three original documents.
The patent’s document describes the invention in detail. Let’s try to explain it simply. Keep in mind that this patent is nothing but just an ingenious way to use a classical 30’ subdial. There is absolutely no modification of the movement.
The main idea is that the countdown rules are different depending on whether you are sailing on the US coast or somewhere else in the world. Fore US races, the countdown is divided in 3 period of 5 minutes (blue striped, blue and red sectors on the left part. Elsewhere, the international rules are applied: the countdown is divided in 2 period of 5 minutes (blue and red sectors of the right part of the subdial). You’re sailing in the US ? You will follow the countdown with the bottom part of the hand which goes up from the left. On the contrary, you will use the upper “lollipop part” of the hand that goes down on the right if you’re racing according to the international rules.
And what of the last grey segment in the right side? Well… In fact, it’s useless. But if you have not crossed the starting line when the hand lollipop is in that sector, let’s say you might as well go to the nearest bar and have a beer, or even something stronger. Because you’ve just lost the race…
YEMA Yachtingraf | Its evolution trough the advertising campaigns
Rather than the very usual retrospective made of watches pictures, let’s go back in time through Yema advertising campaigns, which are a very rich source of information.
1967 | The YEMA Yachtingraf 9314 – First advertising campaign
This advertising is quite easy to find, but with different prices for the watch. This one is the first that has been published for what I know. I have added the other side the page. I find interesting to have context information of what was happening at the same period.
Like exposed in the patent document, the Yachtingraf 9314 has a 60 seconds subdial at 09 :00 and a 30 minutes “countdown” register at 03 :00. This first Yachtingraf was very probably designed by Daniel Jacquinot who has been the style director at Yema during the 60’s and until 1975.
Regarding the versions, the “two subdials” Yachtingraf have been animated with a Valjoux 92 or a Valjoux 7730. Not obvious to distinguish them from each other without opening the caseback. However it seems that figures on the 60 seconds subdial are always written in a circular way (following the seconds marks) for the Valjoux 92 model, and mainly written horizontally on the Valjoux 7730 dial (I’ve sometime seen the other configuration). Considering this, the watch on this ad’ is most likely equipped with a Valjoux 7730. The Valjoux 92 Yachtingraf could have the 9312 reference rather than 9314. But I’m not 100% sure of this detail.
1969 | The Yema Yachtingraf 92.001 L – The Paris-Match & Elle advertising Campaign
The “three subdials” Yachtingraf have a 30 minutes register at 03:00, a 24 hours timer at 06:00, and a third 60 seconds subdial at 09:00. The 24 hours timer has two scales, allowing to follow the first 12 hours on the main scale, and the 12 following a simplified 15/18/21/24 inner scale.
This watch existed in two versions, respectively equipped with a Valjoux 72 and a Valjoux 7736. The Valjoux 72, the rarest, is easy to identify thanks to its two asymmetric pushers. Moreover, the 60 seconds subdial is white on the Valjoux 72 models, while the Valjoux 7736 model, more common, has got a black seconds subdial. Some rare dials have a “Paris” inscription under the central axe. Whatever the dial, the hours register at 06:00 is white, with a printed central red cross. From an aesthetic point of view, the Valjoux 7736 looks more elegant to me.
Regarding the pushers’ position and the white seconds subdial, the watch on the above publications is obviously the Valjoux 72 model. The advertising on the right side mentions the two subdials model under the reference 93.014.H, at a 420 Frs price. Here below is a colored representation of the 93.014.H Yachtingraf, on a same period collection catalog.
1970 | First YEMA Yachtingraf “Croisière”. Partnership with the Official French Yachting federation
This advertising comes from the YEMA company archives. I have selected it for multiple reasons.
- In 1970, YEMA becomes the official partner of French Yachting federation.
- It is the first advertising (as far as I know) where the “Croisière” naming is officially appearing.
- The Yachtingraf is presented with new references, 92.101.M for the 3 subdials model (Price 550 Frs), and 93.114.A for the 2 registers model (Price 440 Frs)
A Yema Superman “1963” with the famous “scale” strap is presented. A Superman “1963” on a 1970 advertising is quite surprising. I’ve got my own idea about this, but it’s not really the point here.
1972 | The Munich Olympics games campaign…and French medals
The French competitor Serge MAURY won the Gold medal in the Finn category, and the PAJOT brothers Yves and Marc won the Silver Medal in the Flying Dutchman mixt category. A good marketing asset for YEMA. Unfortunately, the Munich games were also mourned by the hostage taking and murder of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists.
Given the symmetric pusher positions the chronograph on this ad is likely equipped with a Valjoux 7736… but it could also be with a Valjoux 92 if we consider the white colors of the seconds subdial at 03:00. Hmm. Let’s say YEMA advertising were nor very rigorous nor faithful…
There is another questioning point on this ad. The price! At 485 Frs on a leather strap, the watch is 35€ less expensive than on the previous ad, and 85€ less expensive than on the 1969 advertising. A continuous price decrease during 4 years… As the early 70’s was a period of strong inflation, I have to confess there is something I don’t understand here. In case you have any idea, please let me a comment!
1974 | The YEMA Yachtingraf Croisière 92106 J “calendar”
This new version of the Yachtingraf appears on the above 1974 document, which announces to the authorized retailers network (HBJO stands for Horlogerie Bijouterie Joaillerie Orfevrerie) a massive multichannel advertising campaign (TV, Radio, Newspapers) during spring and summer. The punchline says “YEMA give spirit to watches”. And the promise is: “A bit of madness for a campaign that will trigger 200 million smiles… and the jubilation of all HBJOs who will never have sold so many YEMA”. Since then, the internet revolution has changed a lot in the retail distribution models…
Here is an extract of a May/June 1974 Flyer, presenting the YEMA Yachtingraf Croisière 92106 J. This is the last Yachtingraf designed by Daniel Jacquinot. New case shape, new bezel, first steel strap, date aperture at 06:00 (Valjoux 7734 inside). On the seconds subdial at 03:00, the figures following the curve of the dial hedge are back.
The watch price is now of 585 Frs. Price has come back to its 1969 level.
1975 | The YEMA Yachtingraf Digital 93139 K AC. Patented model.
Goodbye Daniel Jacquinot. Thanks for the great watches you’ve designed during your years at YEMA! They still make the watch enthusiast joyful. Welcome to Jean Müller, who succeeded him at the head of YEMA design in September 1974.
Here is, on a 1975 (or 1976) flyer, the Yachtingraf Digital. This is one of the most efficient Yachting chronograph of the 70’s, with its modified Valjoux 7733”s”, and its countdown aperture, able to indicate every 30 seconds to the sailor the remaining time before the Start signal. Note the “blue ship” pictogram at 06:00.
It would be much too long to explain here the way this chronograph works. Just know there is a disc with 2 periods of 5 minutes countdown.
Wait, wait, wait… You will still find at the end of this review a file to download (in French or in English, you to choose) with an article that I published a few years ago about this countdown aperture on the French Forum FAM.
1977 | The YEMA Yachtingraf 93.003.6 AA
In 1977 Jean Müller created one of my favorite chronographs case middle. On the below advertising, 3 chronographs are presented with this case. Let’s call it the “The Müller’s watchcase”. Among them is the Yachtingraf 93.003.6 AA. (third from the left).
This watch will be quickly followed by a bigger chronograph, in a Jumbo case. Apart from the case difference, almost the same watch with tiny graphic variations (white ship pictogram for example).
And then came… The quartz revolution and the Matra Horlogerie adventure for the YEMA company. It’s another story. But the Yachtingraf never lefts the YEMA collection.
2019 | The YEMA Heritage collection
Let’s jump with both feet over 40 years of French watchmaking history during which the brand has decelerated and almost disappeared. In 2019, Yema is back! The new leaders capitalize on the iconic models of the past and launch a Heritage collection, which includes a Yachtingraf chronograph.
I don’t like very much this chronograph. Unlike the other models which are quite faithful reissues of the original watches, this watch is a strange combination of elements that lack coherence in my opinion: a Yachtingraf “Jacquinot dial” with a Flygraf dial ring in a “Müller case”. However, I believe this is the most successful of the three chrono reissues. The very popular Superman is currently still in the catalog.
The YEMA Yachtingraf Bronze limited edition review!
You’ve read a lot until know. Time to rest! For this review, I promise you a maximum of pictures and a minimum of blabla.
A heavy bronze case
The YEMA Yachtingraf bronze case is thick. 14,5mm. 16,5mm with the domed sapphire crystal. You will not wear it with cufflinks… But after two days on my little 17cm wrist, it proves to be very comfortable thanks to its reasonable lugs to lugs length (48mm). The fine curved lugs help to hold it in place. That helps.
Nice to know: while preparing this review, I learned that bronze, being more malleable and less rigid than steel, can lead to thicker cases to ensure the desired level of waterproofing.
A Dual Time bezel
The unidirectional (120 clicks) dual time bezel of this Yema Yachtingraf Bronze is, in my opinion, an interesting change compared to the classical 60 mn bezels what have been done in the past. After all, the Yachtingraf patent has been thought for different time zones. Hasn’t it? And frankly, the original explanation of the 60mn bezel usage on the 1067 patent document is… Well. I let you make your own judgment if you have the courage to read it.
Great Dial and hands.
YEMA really did a good job on the dial and hands. I hope my pictures will let you appreciate it. The matt black surface of the dial makes every information very readable. The white hands of the subdials and of the chronograph one are perfectly painted and clean. I appreciate the fineness of the Minutes and Hour hands. They give the watch a touch of elegance while remaining perfectly readable.
The two microgroove subdials are very well done, with thin, precise and readable inscriptions. I just regret that the microgroove engraving is not more visible to the naked eye.
Now the question: why is the countdown dial on the left rather than on the right? As I explained on the beginning, the Yachtingraf patent uses a classical 30 minutes dial. On the Seiko NE86 which brings live to this watch, the minutes register is on the left. As far as I’m concerned, this is a pleasant and unexpected change.
I won’t go into too much detail so as not to weigh down this review, but the N86, with its column wheel and vertical clutch, offers a very good alternative to the classic Valjoux, while being very competitive in terms of price.
The beveled date aperture, with gold coating as for the indices. The date disc is rather recessed compared to the surface of the dial. The date could probably be easier to read if the white of the numbers could be more intense and compensate for the inner shadow. The “Automatique France” inscription is discreet and balances the dial.
The 20mm wide black leather strap that I have tested is soft and comfortable. But the different layers of leather, simply glued, tend to separate. This is frustrating for a watch of this quality. I hope Yema will improve it for the production. Otherwise you will quickly have to change your strap. But don’t forget to reuse the original engraved bronze buckle!
My conclusion is very simple: as far as I’m concerned, I am totally conquered by this watch. This YEMA Yachtingrf Bronze limited edition is the worthy successor of its illustrious predecessors. It is not a simple reissue and brings something new to the Yema long story. It has the potential to become a “must have” very quickly. Le limited number of manufactured watches could help.
And you? What do you think about it? Do not hesitate to comment this article in order to share your opinion.
Please don’t leave before you have
- downloaded the documents you wish to keep: patent documents; review of the Yachtingraf 93.003.6.AA; this review (in English or French)
- had a look at the photo gallery below. I have tested the watch on a few different straps
- shared this review if you like it, and subscribed to my Instagram Jerry_watches thread in order to be informed of the next publication
Take care and see you soon on clockmetender! Jerry