Back in June, YEMA released a largely redesigned version of their iconic 60s Superman diver: the Superman 500. Similar in appearance to the models which came before it, the Superman 500 represented a step up in tech. Its locking bezel mechanism underwent an overhaul. The box crystal experienced a change in shape. The crown stem and rotating bezel were also tweaked. The result was a more functional, more robust Superman, without sacrificing the popular skindiving aesthetic of the original.
This month, YEMA announced the addition of a GMT to this new line. Each of the three colourways will be offered in runs limited to 200 timepieces, and—true to YEMA tradition—be made available in both 39 and 41mm references.
Featured here, we have all three bezel choices in the 39mm case. Each is fashioned from vertically brushed 316L stainless steel and measures 48mm lug to lug with a 19mm lug width. The case itself is 11.25mm thick but grows to approximately 13.4mm when you take into consideration the box sapphire crystal. Part of the redesign, as mentioned above, involved a reworking of this dome, so that it was slightly shorter and wider—but also thicker (2.6mm)—to better resist water pressure. Visually, the change is negligible. The lovely double-domed dial distortions of past Supermen are still very much present in the 500 GMT. Further contributing to the 50BAR revamp of this new line is the thicker screw-down caseback, which now comes in at a solid 2.2mm.
The YEMA Superman would just not be the same without its omnipresent bezel-lock system, but aficionados and critics alike will be pleased that it can now be used while in the water, thanks to changes in the crown tube and the addition of an extra 3BAR gasket which allows the crown to be unscrewed at the surface without risk of flooding the case.
The coin edge, 24-click bezel also offers smoother rotation and more precise alignment thanks to “micro drilling” in the case.
Of course, the main talking point here is the YEMA3000 calibre at the heart of this piece. The in-house movement has made appearances in the Worldtimer and Hertiage GMT collections previously and allows the wearer—in conjunction with the 24-hour bezel insert—to track a total of three time zones. However, this caller-GMT has never been used in a 50BAR watch before. In fact, this combination of water resistance and GMT function place the Superman 500 GMT among a small school of fish. The Zelos Thresher jumps to mind. As does the Aquadive Poseidon. But I’d have to do a deep dive of my own to come up with another.
According to YEMA’s literature, the components and build quality of YEMA3000 yield better performance than other off the shelf calibres, such as the ETA, Sellita, and Miyota GMTs. The 4Hz movement promises a 42-hour power reserve and a daily rate of +/- 10 seconds.
The dial of the Superman 500 GMT is the same across all three colourways, employing a glossy black backing and a mix of printed markers: circular plots, batons, and an inverted triangular pip at 12. There is also a date window integrated at three with an unobtrusive black date wheel. The now ubiquitous YEMA hands (a conjunction of the pencil hour, arrow minute and a shovel seconds), along with all markers and the GMT, have been generously treated with Grade A Swiss Super-LumiNova. Even the bezel insert is lumed.
This aluminum insert is in fact the only defining difference among the various references. YEMA have opted for a blue-grey “Batman,” a black and white version, and a Pepsi offering. Personally, I have soft spot for the Pepsi, which is a faded denim blue, paired with an almost salmon shade of red/orange that the brand renders do not do justice. The tropical appearance really fits the vintage case design. However, I do love the way the black & white bezel is “fully” lumed.
I’d be remiss here, however, if I didn’t comment at some length on the overall fit finish of the Superman 500 GMT. While it is almost exclusively brushed, with the exception of its crown, the uniformity of texture is really first rate. The edges have knife-blade transitions and the caseback offers up a top notch rendering of YEMA’s historic crest—embossed and bead-blasted for precision. With its matte, industrial appearance and drilled lugs, the 500 GMT is every inch a tool watch—but my goodness, it’s an attractive one.
For a bracelet, YEMA have brought back the vintage-styled band designed for the original Superman 500. The predominantly brushed links reflect the case finish, but also offer a touch polish down the centre, which picks up the flash of polish on the signed crown. The milled clasp is a simple clamshell fold-over, but it does have the all-important diver’s extension. My appreciation for this bracelet among YEMA’s other selections, really comes down to how it fits between the lugs and drapes nicely on the wrist.
If a bracelet isn’t your thing, you can also choose among a vintage-inspired Tropic strap, a two-stich leather strap, or the rubber FKM Viton Band with deployant clasp.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
19/20mm Lug Width
Screw Down Caseback & Crown
/w Bezel Lock
24-Hour/Click Aluminum Bezel
500m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Double-domed Sapphire Crystal|
Grade A Super-LumiNova
Date at 3 o’clock
42-Hour Power Reserve
Stainless Steel Bracelet with Milled Clasp
& Diver Extension
Rubber FKM Viton Band /w Deployant Clasp
YEMA Superman 500 GMT
If you are a hardcore YEMA fan, then you’ll be interested in the Collector’s Bundle. For $3990USD you would receive one of each Superman 500 GMT models, numbered 001-200 with your reserved choice of number. They arrive in a solid wood watchbox, covered in a leatherette–which alone retails for $290USD. You would also have the opportunity to pick the box up in person at their workshops in Morteau, France and experience a personalized guided tour while there–not to mention saving $500 off the retail price.
I’m not sure why you would need three GMTs, but in the immortal words of King Lear, “Reason not the need.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, as YEMA continues to push the envelope with advancements in its case construction and the introduction of in-house movements, it needs to revisit the clasp on its bracelets. There is nothing wrong with the clasp, per say. And it does have a good diver’s extension. But you want more than a simple fold-over for a watch of this calibre.
I have worn the Pepsi reference of the Superman 500 GMT every day since it arrived. I still find myself gazing down at my wrist throughout the day with no need to check the time in any time zone. It’s a lovely watch. Where the original Superman 500 opted for a polished case, the 500 GMT returned to the Superman’s brushed roots. And it was a good decision. The satin sheen is flawless. Each colourway swims just to the left of convention, creating unique hues–or working with lume in creative ways–so that no other bezel will be quite the same. To be sure, it is a tool watch. All the trappings are there–functional design and robust specs. But it is also a looker. The sapphire crystal works well with the vintage-inspired dial to create playful distortions at hard angles. The bracelet is an aesthetically perfect complement to the case design. And then there are those technical upgrades to the bezel-lock, case back, and crown stem. The in-house movement and 500m of water resistance. It’s over spec’d for any recreational activity you are likely to throw at it–including diving–and yet it comes in two highly wearable sizes for just a little more than the price of a Seiko SPB143, which isn’t even a GMT. If you haven’t got a GMT in your stable, you should look twice at the Superman 500. Maybe even thrice?
The YEMA Superman 500 GMT retails for $1399USD on the bracelet. It is available for preorder now. Please visit the brand website for more details.
About the author
Brent Robillard is a writer, educator, craftsman, and watch enthusiast. He is the author of four novels. You can follow him on Instagram.
Off The Cuff articles are full-length, hands-on reviews of the watch in question and represent the opinion of the author only. All photos are original, unless specified otherwise. If you would like to have your watch reviewed on this site, contact us here.
Please understand that using any links to products on this site might result in us making money.
4 thoughts on “Off the Cuff: YEMA Superman 500 GMT”
As always A very in-depth and highly informative read. It definitely pushes all the right buttons and beckons me too give it another look and even possibly selling my original Superman and replacing it with the upgraded GMT version. My final thoughts would be that a clasp is of major importance and especially on a diver… I concur with Robi’s summation and urge Yema to look at alternative designs for its clasp. Great job my friend‼️🤙🏽😎
LikeLiked by 1 person
I own the original steel bezel Worldtimer, but this upgraded Pepsi reference is a real draw. Cheers!
Pingback: Off the Cuff: RZE Ascentus GMT – Calibre321
Pingback: On Spec: YEMA Navygraf Chrono & Chrono UTC – Calibre321