One of the greatest sleeper hits of all time—and a personal favourite of mine—has to be the 1976 film, Rocky. Shot on a budget of less than $1 million dollars, the movie—which initially opened to mixed reviews—went on to gross more than $225 million worldwide. It garnered ten Academy Award nominations and took home three—including Best Picture.
But as much as I like Rocky, I have a nomination of my own in the category of Greatest Sleeper Hit—the YEMA Meangraf Sous Marine R60. Like the young Stallone, the Sous Marine punches way above its weight class and harkens back to that era with serious vintage vibes.
To call the Sous Marine R60 a reissue might be misleading. Certainly, the watch references those quirky dials made so popular in the 60s and 70s, not only by YEMA, but by others like Omega, Zenith and Bulova. But really the R60 is a reinterpretation, and possibly a reinvention of the Sous Marine.
Part of what makes the Sous Marine so funky is the clear use of racing cues on what is essentially a dive watch. Tearing a page from their own Meangraf Super Chronograph Series, YEMA have maintained the same design language in the visually fetching minute rehaut which references the checkered flag pattern, not to mention what looks like the use of racing stripes and a nod to the Citroen rally car livery. YEMA fans will also be quick to catch the Daytona-styled crown. Even the case shape is the same—minus the pushers, of course.
But make no mistake, the Sous Marine R60 is a modern timepiece designed for all-terrains. The case, in particular, is a minor marvel. Constructed from 316L stainless steel, it measures a lissom 39mm in diameter and only 45mm lug to lug. It is 11.6mm thick, but once you take into consideration that glorious sapphire dome, the true height is closer to 14mm. It has polished sides and a generous bevel along the mid-case, but is satin brushed across the top. The case back and crown are screw-down and with the addition of a helium escape valve, the watch offers a solid 300m in water resistance.
But it’s the bi-directional diving bezel and the manner in which it is incorporated into the case which is most interesting. Partially seated within the case itself, the bezel is shrouded on four corners, while remaining easily manipulated. The result is attractive and functional at the same time, protecting the friction mechanism from bumps and knocks. The aluminum insert is also special, being lumed and then capped in sapphire for a real sense of depth.
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The 2.6mm sapphire dome is the piece de resistance, though. With so much happening visually underneath, it creates beautiful distortions from all perspectives, and yet, because of the placement of the applied indices on the inner portion of the dial, it manages to increase legibility by extending those markers several millimeters at sharp angles.
I really like how the designers have used asymmetry to balance the dial, with the offset logo to the left and the red-rimmed date window at three, divided by the use perpendicular red lines. The bold use of colour is a two punch.
The hands, markers, and bezel indicators have all been treated with BGW9 Super-LumiNova, which offers a satisfying laser-sharp blue glow.
Powering this little gem is the in-house YEMA2000—increasingly the brand’s go-to for three-hand watches—beating steadily at 28 800vph, with a reported accuracy of +/-10 s/d and a power reserve of 42 hours.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
45mm Lug to Lug
11.6mm Thick (14mm with dome/bezel)
20mm Lug Width
Screw Down Caseback & Crown
/w Bi-directional Sapphire Friction Bezel
300m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Domed Sapphire Crystal|
|Movement||YEMA 2000 In-House Calibre|
Date at 3 o’clock
42-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Available on Vintage Leather or FKM Rubber|
Viton Band /w Stainless Steel Dive Clasp
YEMA Meangraf Sous Marine R60
The R60 has a somewhat more subdued sister watch in the Sous Marine Y60–perhaps a little more Renault than Citroen in its colourway, but offering the same vintage rally styling. If the R60 is too “in your face” with its brash use of stark white and red, but you still want that retro flavour, perhaps the quieter hues of the Y60 are for you.
Some might find the height of the Sous Marine R60–once you take into consideration the generous dome–on a watch of smaller proportions is a bit top heavy. Ultimately, you just have to own it.
A rally car must be sturdy, agile, and versatile–quick and doughty enough to suffer the shocks and impacts of offroad racing. They are bold, little vehicles with big engines and big dreams. The funky YEMA Meangraf Sous Marine R60 resembles those remarks. There was not a lot of fanfare around the release of this watch; however, with 300m of water resistance, a helium escape valve, in-house movement, and innovative case design, it’s one tough customer. But while you’ll appreciate the specs, you’ll ultimately want it for the offbeat design. Like I said, it’s a two punch. But it’s more really. As with Rocky, it’s a knockout.
The YEMA Meangraf Sous Marine R60 retails for $999USD. For more information, please visit the brand website.
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