Off the Cuff: YEMA Superman 500 GMT

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.

YEMA Superman 500 GMT Watch Review
YEMA Superman 500 GMT @calibre321

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.

YEMA Superman 500 GMT Watch Review
Tracks up to three time zones @calibre321
YEMA Superman 500 GMT Watch Review
Water resistant to 500 meters @calibre321

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.

YEMA Superman 500 GMT Watch Review
Batman reference @calibre321

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.

YEMA Superman 500 GMT Watch Review
Redesigned bezel-lock system and crown stem @calibre321

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.

YEMA Superman 500 GMT Watch Review
Crystal distortions @calibre321

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.

YEMA Superman 500 GMT Watch Review
Pepsi reference @calibre321

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.

YEMA Superman 500 GMT Watch Review
24-hour bezel with date window at 3 @calibre321

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.

YEMA Superman 500 GMT Watch Review
 Sapphire dome is 2.6mm thick @calibre321

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.

YEMA Superman 500 GMT Watch Review
Grade A Super-LumiNova @calibre321

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.

YEMA Superman 500 GMT Watch Review
Embossed and bead-blasted caseback @calibre321

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.       


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Specs

Case316L Stainless Steel
39/41mm Diameter
48/49.5mm
13.4mm Thick
19/20mm Lug Width
Screw Down Caseback & Crown
/w Bezel Lock
24-Hour/Click Aluminum Bezel
500m Water Resistance
Dial & CrystalDouble-domed Sapphire Crystal
/w AR
Painted Indices
Grade A Super-LumiNova
MovementYEMA3000
Automatic GMT
29 Jewels
28 800bph
Date at 3 o’clock
42-Hour Power Reserve
StrapChoice of:
Stainless Steel Bracelet with Milled Clasp
& Diver Extension
Vintage Leather
Tropic Strap
Rubber FKM Viton Band /w Deployant Clasp

YEMA Superman 500 GMT


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Of Interest

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.”

YEMA Superman 500 GMT Watch Review
Casual vibes @calibre321

Quibbles

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.

YEMA Superman 500 GMT Watch Review
Quintessential tool watch @calibre321

Final Thoughts

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.

YEMA Superman 500 GMT Watch Review
YEMA Superman 500 GMT @calibre321

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.

2 thoughts on “Off the Cuff: YEMA Superman 500 GMT

  1. 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‼️🤙🏽😎

    Liked by 1 person

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