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The Return Of An Emblematic French Watchmaker | Part II

The Return Of An Emblematic French Watchmaker | Part II

The Tales of Yema
Published by: Samuel Ng
Jun 24, 2024
The Darkest Times

Entering the nineties, Yema faced its toughest period yet. Still under the Hattori group's leadership, overseen by Mr. Louis-Éric Bechensteiner, sales continued to plummet from six digits to around 85,000 watches by 2003. Alongside declining sales, the brand seemed to lose its essence, resorting to distributing watches bearing the names of fashion houses like Nike, Dolce and Gabbana, among others, at the turn of the millennium. Wait, didn’t they do apparels? That’s an affront to French watchmaking! Now with their watches produced by a traditional French watchmaker, we all could tell things were definitely going wrong.

The once-prominent French maison began to lose its identity, teetering on the edge of disappearing altogether. Sadly, all these challenges unfolded while founder Mr. Henry Louis Belmont was still alive. One can only imagine his disappointment leading up to his passing in 2002. He must have felt the weight of decades of struggle, fearing that his once-thriving watchmaking legacy would be lost to history alongside him. However, little did he know that this brand, on the brink of vanishing, would find the strength to persevere through the darkest of times. Indeed, a turnaround was on the horizon after hitting rock bottom.

An Attempt To Turn The Tights

Yema Maison Horlogeré Française in 18 Rue Besonçon, in which now being occupied by the Swatch Group. (Photo Credit: Leclubyema)

During its lowest point, Yema took decisive steps to stay afloat. In 2003, the brand enlisted the expertise of France's Centdegrés agency for a rebranding effort. Founded in 1988 and specializing in branding and visual identity, the design firm began reworking Yema's watch designs to recapture the hearts of watch enthusiasts. Concurrently, in 2004, Mr. Louis-Éric Bechensteiner acquired the brand from the Japanese Hattori group for a sum of 1,000,000EUR (approximately 1.5 million euros today).

Along with acquiring the brand name, Mr. Bechensteiner also brought on board 25 former employees of Yema SA who still believed in the French watchmaker's potential. However, the official rebranding for Yema didn't occur until 2008, when it adopted the new moniker "Yema Maison Horlogère Française 1948." This new company name was registered with a renewed mission to reconnect with its watchmaking heritage by evoking its founding year, dating back six decades.

During this period of resurgence, Yema focused on maintaining its presence across various distribution channels and enhancing publicity efforts. With the backing of the French design company Centdegrés, Yema streamlined its watch collection into three main genres: air, land, and sea. This move allowed the brand to reestablish its sporting collections, reminiscent of the successes it enjoyed during its heyday.

An invitation from Mr Bechensteiner to Yema’s collectors for a private get-together picnic. (Photo Credit: Leclubyema)

The apparent reinvigorated Yema focused on refining its products to essentials while actively engaging with watch communities. Mr. Bechensteiner initiated connections with enthusiasts on watch forums, tapping into their knowledge and passion for the French brand's history. He maintained an active presence on these online platforms, often soliciting collectors to share their insights and historical models. To foster deeper connections, he organized a private gathering at Lafayette Park in Besançon, bringing together interested parties in 2008.

However, navigating online communications wasn't always smooth sailing, as passionate discussions could sometimes lead to heated exchanges. Despite occasional tensions, the brand valued these interactions as it facilitated more intimate and meaningful connections with collectors.

In addition to engaging with enthusiasts, the new Yema Maison Horlogère Française 1948 strategically expanded its market reach by targeting China, a territory it had never explored before. With Asia's rising purchasing power, especially in China where luxury goods consumption had surged, Yema partnered with Peacemark Limited, a leading distributor of prestigious watch brands in the region. This collaboration allowed Yema to showcase its watches in Peacemark's extensive network of 600 sales points across Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China.

An Official Return

Louis-Éric Bechensteiner wearing the 2009’s Master Elements Limited Edition Automatic Chronograph.

In an interview with the online platform World Tempus, Mr. Bechensteiner reflected on Yema's recent journey, stating, “For three years, we have focused exclusively on the French market. We were not ready, and we had to rebuild our identity. It is now done. After this refocusing, it is therefore time to set out again to conquer new markets and to talk about the brand again where it has kept a good image and where France remains valued.” He emphasized Yema's enduring sporting heritage, expressed through its collections inspired by the land, air, and sea. This includes the Rallygraf for motor racing, Flygraf for aviation, and Underwater for diving watches.

By the 2000s, Yema's collection had grown to around 70 new models, marking a significant return to the horology scene. At the Basel trade show in 2008, the brand unveiled its "Time of Heroes" collection and a special collector's release commemorating its 60th anniversary. This new collection showcased Yema's commitment to tradition (Yema Classique), innovation (Yema Lab), and image (Yema Creation), while also reintroducing legendary models like the "Rallygraf" (2005), "Flygraf" (2006), and "Yachtinggraf" (2007). One standout piece was the Master Elements limited edition automatic chronograph, limited to just sixty pieces. Featuring a 46mm case with a screwed-down case-back and blued sapphire glass, this model showcased the Valjoux 7750 chronograph movement at its heart, celebrating Yema's historical milestones with elegance and precision.

Limited to 60 pieces, the Master Elements chronograph celebrates the 60th anniversary of Yema. (Photo Credit: Masterhorologer)

Yema faced another significant challenge when its key distributor in Asia, Peacemark Limited, experienced a drastic downturn in its stocks. In August 2008, Peacemark's shares plummeted by 70% within a short period due to a severe cash-flow crisis, sparking uncertainty among investors. This downturn proved disastrous for Yema as Peacemark was its primary shareholder. By November 2008, Peacemark had entered receivership and was actively seeking new partners for a takeover. During this tumultuous period, a majority of Yema's employees were unfortunately laid off.

The CEO must have felt an immense sense of despair as Yema was on the brink of a breakthrough only to be plunged back into darkness unexpectedly. Mr. Bechensteiner was caught off guard when he learned of Peacemark's financial troubles, leading to the suspension of its operations in the Hong Kong market. The situation worsened when Peacemark sought legal protection in September 2008, leaving Yema stranded without the promised 30,000 timepieces that were supposed to be produced by Peacemark's factories. With a tight production deadline and no means to replicate the necessary tools, Yema found itself in an unrecoverable situation, dealing a final blow to the company's prospects.

By 2009, all activities at Yema Maison Horlogère Française 1948 had ground to a halt after just five years of operation. Despite the bleak outlook and impending closure, the Yema brand itself endured, hinting at the possibility of a future revival.

A Proper Rebirth This Time

In 2009, the French group Ambre stepped in to acquire the remaining assets of Yema during the crucial six-month deadline imposed in November 2008. Led by CEO Mr. Pascal Bole, whose parents founded the group, Ambre was driven by a strong desire to promote the French watchmaking industry, particularly through the revitalization of the once-renowned French Chamber of Watchmaking and Micro Techniques (CFHM). Mr. Bole articulated that Ambre's acquisition aimed to breathe new life into the brand by honoring its heritage, crafting collections that paid homage to Yema's illustrious history in French watchmaking.

Under the new ownership, six former Yema employees were retained, joined by additional members existing from Ambre group, revitalizing French watchmaking operations in Morteau. Ambre Group refocused Yema's efforts on watchmaking while partnering with external distributor Troisieme Sens, founded in 2008 and spearheaded by Mr. Dominique Roger, a distribution specialist who tailored a network specifically for Yema. The collaborative effort included two sales departments, designed to cultivate a reputable brand image and foster strong partnerships with retailers for product distribution.

Mr. Jean-Paul Boillet who helped designed the Yema MBP1000 caliber. (Photo Credit: Pressreader)

At the 2011 Basel Motor Show, Ambre Group showcased its innovative in-house caliber, the MBP1000. Developed under the guidance of manufacturing director Jean-Paul Boillet, boasting 40 years of industry experience, this movement integrated materials sourced from Asia and underwent design and assembly in France at the Morteau headquarters. The MBP1000 lineup comprised four variations: the MBP1000 featuring three hands with a date display, the MPB1010 with a small second display, the MBP1030 with a power reserve indicator, and the MBP1050 showcasing an open-heart design. With a significant investment exceeding 3 million Euros and four years of dedicated research and development, the 31-jewel MBP1000 marked a significant milestone for Yema.

The MBP1000 was the first in-house movement produced by Ambre Group for Yema. (Photo Credit: Calibercorner)

The Ambre Group emerged as Yema's savior, executing the vision that had faltered during the Peacemark era and achieving remarkable success. Yema not only embraced its heroic legacy but also forged sporting partnerships that complemented its robust collection, including the "Time of Heroes" series introduced by Mr. Beckensteiner in 2008. Today, the director of Yema is helmed by the Ambre Group CEO's son Mr Christopher Bole.

Current Yema's Director Christopher Bole. (Photo Credit: Lepetitpoussoir)

In addition to enhancing the brand's image through its collections, Ambre Group orchestrated a highly effective digital marketing strategy for Yema. Leveraging social media platforms like watch forums, Instagram, and Facebook, Yema engaged with fan communities and communicated commercial successes and developments, such as the introduction of in-house movements.

Building upon these successes, Yema ventured into online e-commerce, establishing partnerships with six physical retailers in Japan in 2019 and expanding its reach into North America, Asia, Australia, and other regions. This foreign expansion marked a significant resurgence for Yema, echoing the brand's founding spirit under Henry-John Belmont.

The Heritage Collection

The 2018 Yema Superman. (Photo Credit: Worn And Wound)
In 2016, Yema revisited one of its most iconic dive watches, the Superman diver, releasing three distinct designs. The initial version sparked controversy among enthusiasts due to its "original" design, leading to a refined second edition featuring the Ambre MBP1000 movement. However, it was the third iteration, unveiled in 2018 as a limited edition of 500 pieces, that truly captured hearts. This Superman edition, reminiscent of the original codes, was equipped with an ETA 2824 automatic movement and marked the debut of the new Heritage collection. The watch quickly sold out, signaling a resounding success.

(Photo Credit: Watchpool24)
The remake of the Superman (down) is based off the vintage Yema Ref. 530016 (above)

(Photo Credit: Monochrome)

Buoyed by the acclaim for the Superman, Ambre Group expanded the Heritage collection to include other genres such as the racing-inspired Rallygraf, the nautical-themed Yachtingraf, and the aviation-focused Flygraf chronographs. Yema delved deep into its history to bring forth meticulously crafted timepieces, steadily improving its craftsmanship with each release.

The aviation themed Flygraf Chronograph is part of Yema’s Heritage collection. (Photo Credit: Monochrome)

Each new model's launch was accompanied by meticulously orchestrated marketing campaigns spanning traditional and digital media channels. These efforts resonated strongly with enthusiasts, leading to a positive reception for both the products and the information shared, affirming Yema's renewed standing in the horology community.

The Present Time

Recent release the Urban Field in blue.

The revival of Yema owes much to the steadfast commitment of those dedicated to preserving French watchmaking. As a longtime retailer of Yema, Gnomon has witnessed the brand's journey towards greater heights in watchmaking. In this segment, we'll delve into Yema's technical advancements without delving into every watch model, which would be exhaustive. As of 2024, Yema boasts six main collections:

1. Yema Manufacture: Featuring models equipped with its own new in-house manufacture calibers.

2. Dive watches: Professional diving models with a resolutely neo-vintage design.

3. Military watches: Yema's partnership models, providing tool watches tailored to the specifications of various military personnel.

4. Chronograph watches: Tributes to Yema's iconic watches in the motorsport genre.

5. Space and Aviation watches: Collaboration pieces with the French Space Agency and pilots for space and aeronautical tasks.

6. Urban Sports watches: Modern-styled timepieces designed for versatility in various circumstances.

As this article goes live, I'm confident that Yema will continue expanding its impressive portfolio with more amazing collections.

A chart that compares Yema’s in-house movements with the Swiss ETA and Japanese Miyota counterparts.

For a closer look at Yema's recent watchmaking marvels, let's highlight some specific models. Building upon the MBP1000 caliber, Yema introduced the second-generation in-house calibers, the Yema 2000 and 3000, evolving from 2011. These calibers, categorized as "Standard Grade," were meticulously designed, developed, and assembled by Yema's watchmakers in Morteau. Essential components were refined to enhance precision and durability significantly. The chart below illustrates the differences between these in-house movements and their counterparts from Switzerland and Japan.

The in-house Yema 2000 caliber is an upgrade from the MBP1000.

The new Standard Grade movements feature a modified regulator mechanism for improved adjustment of the hairspring and balance wheel, resulting in more accurate regulation and reliability. Additionally, Yema redesigned the movements' reversing wheels for a more efficient winding system, allowing bidirectional winding. These seemingly minor yet detailed enhancements demonstrate Yema's dedication to revitalizing France's horological legacy step by step, restoring pride in French watchmaking. The Yema Standard Grade calibers offer manufacturing simplicity, efficiency, precise performance, and reliability, all at a competitive price point.

Non-stop Amelioration

Focusing a lot on manufacturing in-house movements.

Over the past two years, Yema has made significant investments to bring a substantial part of its production in-house, continuously enhancing manufacturing processes' quality, and developing a future range of French Manufacture calibers. This major development necessitated substantial R&D, new equipment, and the expansion of workshops and production lines. Positioned within a dynamic regional watchmaking ecosystem near the Swiss watchmaking region, Yema's workshops in Morteau have tapped into a cross-border watchmaking community concentrated along the Jura mountains.

Yema now works with new local and Swiss partners to secure a more responsible and higher quality production, all within a range of 72km from Morteau.

In 2023, Yema unveiled its first-ever Caliber Manufacture series, featuring the debut Calibre Manufacture Morteau 10 (CMM.10) entirely designed and developed by YEMA, with regulating organs manufactured in Switzerland. The Manufacture movement components are produced in France and Switzerland within a 72km radius from Morteau. Specifically, the caliber bridges and mainplates are fully manufactured in YEMA’s Morteau workshops, along with the final assembly of all components.

Yema’s Manufacture Caliber CMM.10 are made fully in its faculties.

The CMM.10 represents a modern interpretation of traditional 3-hands calibers. Notably, the transversal bridge over the balance wheel provides stability, and a circular cut-out in the mainplate elegantly frames the balance wheel, allowing views of the regulating organ. The symmetrical architecture of the mainplate ensures a perfect and elegant vertical alignment of the balance wheel and large barrel.

Furthermore, the CMM.10 boasts a 70-hour power reserve and features a central bridge design that combines the barrel bridge, center wheel bridge, and winding stem cock into a single large bridge, enhancing the movement's strength, durability, and shock resistance. While these designs are not unique to Yema, they are typically found in top movement specialists due to their expertise and financial resources.

The CMM.10 movement is thoroughly modern in both aesthetic and built.

Apart from its modern architecture, the movement showcases a clean contemporary aesthetic. Yema opted for a modern and distinctive look with black galvanic decoration on the bridges and plate, along with a micro-blasting treatment for a neutral, matte surface finish that contrasts with the oscillating weight's "gunmetal" finish. The uniform black galvanic coating maintains the decorative micro-blasting finish of the surface.

This particular movement is featured in the limited edition bronze Superman series, which introduces the first implementation of a bronze case by Yema, available in 39mm and 41mm sizes in blue and black variations. The high-quality brushed/polished finishes preserve a unique neo-vintage appearance, with bronze developing a distinct patina over time based on use and exposure to weather conditions, making each watch unique and authentic.

The first manufacture caliber was introduced within another first ever Superman diver in bronze material.

The dial proudly showcases French mentions and the new “Manufacture Française” signature at 6 o'clock, reflecting YEMA's new positioning following the internalization of component manufacturing for the CMM.10 caliber. Flipping the 300m dive watches over reveals the CMM.10 at work, adding a touch of modern appeal to these timepieces.

The Second And Third CMM Calibers Are Just Another level

The CMM.20 pushes its in-house development further.

Yema's journey into modern watchmaking didn't stop with just one caliber. Its next stride was truly impressive—the launch of the slim micro-rotor Calibre Manufacture Morteau 20 (CMM.20). This second project, with its unique design, offers high performance thanks to its clever architecture and high-quality Franco-Swiss components. Developed and designed by the experienced movement developer Mr. Olivier Mory, whose CV includes renowned names like Audemars Piguet, Sellita, Piaget, Cartier, and Panerai, this movement comprises several features that allow Yema to reestablish its debonair watchmaking affair.

The CMM.20's smart architecture results in a thickness of just 3.70 mm (compared to the 4.6mm ETA 2824), enabling Yema to create much thinner and elegant cases. To maintain its value proposition without compromising build quality, the bi-directional oscillating micro-rotor winding mass is made of a high-density tungsten alloy, serving as a counterweight in that compact space. This high-weight micro-component optimizes winding, securing a 70-hour power reserve. The balance wheel, made of Glucydur, a non-magnetic, low-thermal-expansion metal alloy, ensures high resistance to deformation, corrosion, magnetic fields, and low thermal expansion—ideal for precision elements requiring dimensional stability.

An heavyweight rotor is needed to allow proper winding efficiency when wearing the watch.
Setting aside the specs, the movement's finishing upholds a modernistic aesthetic with a purpose. The exceptional satin-finishing and micro-blasting treatment of the mainplate and bridges, coated in black using the latest ALD (Atomic Layer Deposition) technology by a Swiss specialist in nanometric decorative coatings, further enhance its contemporary appeal.

The CMM.20 can be found in the recent release from Yema, the 9.95mm Superman Slim

Yema showcased the Manufacture micro-rotor caliber CMM.20 in a sleeker version of the iconic Superman model. The new series features a completely redesigned and thinner 39mm case with a slim profile of just 9.95mm—quite a feat for an automatic 300m water-resistant dive watch. Available in black and blue colorways, these models sport a new handmade enamel lacquered dial, offering a dazzling shine unique to lacquer finishes.

The third Manufacturer Caliber simply seals the horology deal for Yema.

Yema didn’t just stop at its previous achievements; it had yet another ace up its sleeve. Enter the Calibre Manufacture Morteau 30 (CMM.30), one of the most sophisticated mechanical complications on earth. This in-house tourbillon boasts modern aesthetics and a remarkable 105-hour power reserve. The movement, entirely designed and developed by Mr. Olivier Mory and his team, represents a pinnacle of precision and stability.

The tourbillon, invented by French horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1795, is an advanced regulating organ present in select high-end mechanical watches, aimed at enhancing timepiece precision. Its rotating cage contains the balance wheel, hairspring, escape wheel, lever, and second wheel, rotating 360 degrees every 60 seconds to counteract gravity and minimize positional errors. Yema utilizes a free-sprung balance to regulate isochronism, enhancing precision and stability, while also improving hairspring durability and long-term precision.

The tourbillon caliber runs a total of 105 hours power reserve when its fully wound up.

The CMM.30 tourbillon escapement introduces notable improvements, reducing friction through an innovative and sophisticated manufacturing process (LiGA technology). This advanced escapement optimizes mechanics, precision, and caliber component longevity.

In line with Yema’s commitment to modern aesthetics, the Manufacture tourbillon caliber showcases a minimalist, uniform, and high-quality decoration, foregoing traditional “guilloché” decoration. The curved shape of the slightly skeletonized bridges evokes rising tide waves, emphasizing the contemporary aspect of this caliber.

The movement's exceptional satin-finishing and micro-blasting treatment of the mainplate and bridges are executed in black using the latest ALD (Atomic Layer Deposition) technology by a renowned Swiss specialist in nanometric decorative coatings.

The Yacthingraf Maréographe Limited Editions in both steel and bronze.

You can experience this exceptional movement in the recent 2024 release of the Yachtingraf Tourbillon Maréographe 75th Anniversary limited editions. Inspired by the aesthetic codes of the 1970s Yachtingraf iconic model, these models boast a sunray black finish with applied markers coated with Super-LumiNova. The Maréographe register, reminiscent of regatta-style vintage models, features a tide indicator elegantly displayed through a small hand adorned with YEMA’s logo.

The Maréographe's tide complication gracefully indicates high and low tides with gradual half-revolutions every 6hrs 12mins and 7.89secs, along with a full revolution every 12hrs 25mins and 15.79secs, offering a captivating experience for enthusiasts. The transparent exhibition caseback provides a glimpse of the manual-winding heart of the CMM.30 tourbillon caliber, showcasing its distinctive architecture and creating a truly fascinating experience for the true enthusiast.

Crowdfunding The Next Model

Yema successfully utilises its crowdfunding program through kickstarter in 2022 with the launch of its Wristmaster Micro-Rotor LE.

As mentioned earlier, Ambre Group significantly boosted Yema's marketing efforts on social media and various online platforms to enhance brand awareness. In 2022, the company ventured further into the digital realm by adopting an innovative approach. Instead of conventional e-commerce, Yema turned to Kickstarter, a renowned crowdfunding platform, to raise funds for its new models. This unexpected move proved to be a strategic masterstroke.

Yema's decision to leverage crowdfunding was twofold. Firstly, it allowed the brand to connect directly with passionate individuals interested in its offerings. This direct engagement facilitated gathering valuable feedback akin to discussions on watch forums, especially crucial for a recently revitalized brand seeking validation and improvement suggestions. Secondly, by opting for Kickstarter, Yema gained access to backer data and insights, enabling a deeper understanding of market demands and preferences. This approach organically propelled product demand, positioning Yema for successful market penetration.

Yema tested again its next models in November 2023 with the Bronze Superman divers, ended up with more than 1000 backers.

Aligned with its crowdfunding strategy to support Manufacture caliber R&D, Yema unveiled a bronze duo inspired by the iconic French diving watch Superman reference 53.00.16 from the 1970s, introducing its Manufacture caliber CMM.10 in November 2023. Notably, the brand had earlier launched a trio of octagonal-shaped Wristmaster timepieces, showcasing the micro-rotor Manufacture caliber CMM.20. Both crowdfunding campaigns surpassed their goals by significant margins, highlighting the strong resonance Yema's heritage and innovative developments have with watch enthusiasts.

These successful crowdfunding endeavors underscore the allure of Yema's value propositions. Enthusiasts recognize the brand's commitment to authentic horology advancements, crafted by dedicated artisans and designers, all offered at competitive early prices from a reputable watchmaker keen on showcasing its prowess.


Yema collaborates with Alpine Racing.

Yema's #TIMEOFHEROES campaign, launched in the late aughts, delves deep into the brand's history and ethos, celebrating extraordinary individuals whose feats align with Yema's core values. This campaign intertwines the captivating tales of fearless sportsmen and explorers who achieved remarkable feats under extreme conditions, all with a Yema timepiece accompanying them on their daring journeys.

The Navygraf “MN” GMT is an official partnership watch for the French Navy.

Expanding beyond individual heroes, Yema forges partnerships with national entities like the French Navy, marking a significant milestone in its history. The collaboration birthed the first official collection accessible to both military personnel and civilians, epitomizing Yema's dedication to robust and purpose-driven timepieces. Notably, the "Marine Nationale" partnership, dating back to 1626, saw Yema outfitting military personnel with the iconic Navygraf Marine Nationale GMT, featuring an elastic parachute material strap, a testament to its military-grade functionality.

Venturing further, Yema collaborates closely with esteemed entities like the French Air & Space Force and the French Space Agency (Centre National D’Études Spatial). This alliance results in military-grade watches tailored to the precise needs of national fighter pilots and astronauts, ensuring reliability and performance under demanding conditions.

The all new 40mm Grade 2 Titanium Flieger is the latest collab model for the French Air Force.

The Flygraf Flieger FAF serves as a prime example of Yema's collaborations, crafted in partnership with the French Air and Space Force. Inspired by Flieger Type A watches, this timepiece is a modern reinterpretation of a legendary military aviation model. Boasting a lightweight and durable titanium case, the Flygraf Flieger features our in-house Yema 2000 caliber, adding to its precision and reliability in challenging environments.

Jason is a proud PADI ambassador and collaborates today with Yema by testing the reliability of our dive watch prototypes in their natural environment.

On the other end of the spectrum, Yema aligns itself with individuals who explore the depths of the ocean. Renowned divers like Hugues Vitry, marine conservation activist, along with professional scuba diving instructors Justine and Thibault, and PADI Ambassador Jason Washington, all trust Yema's Superman and Navygraf dive watches on their authentic journeys, showcasing Yema's prowess in crafting timepieces for extreme conditions.

Hugues, a diving watch enthusiast, is currently traveling with a Superman Heritage Bronze.

The 25 years old French Ambassador Pierre Hedan tackles the alps with an Yema on the wrist.

Transitioning to land-based adventures, we encounter Pierre Hedan, a 25-year-old French explorer and Yema ambassador, who relied on a Superman 500 GMT during his solo expedition to the South Pole. Yema's racing legacy extends to partnerships with automotive entities like the Classic Racing School and professional race driver Pierre Sancinena, competing in the Alpine Europa Cup Championship with a Renault Alpine A110 on renowned European circuits.

Professional race driver Pierre Sancinena wearing an Yema Rallygraf.

Mario Andretti wore a Rallygraf during his racing years in the late sixties.

Speaking of racing heritage, Yema celebrates icons like Mario Andretti, the legendary race car driver known for his unprecedented victories. In 1969, Mr. Andretti clinched the Indy 500 with a Yema on his wrist, a testament to the brand's enduring ties with motorsports. In homage to his legacy, Yema collaborated with Mr. Andretti to create the Rallye Andretti and Meca-Quartz Rallygraf Andretti LEs, embodying the spirit of racing excellence and innovation.

Yema pays tribute with a special edition to commemorate Mr Andretti’s Indy 500 win in 1969.

Personal Thoughts

Thank you Yema for the French chocolate.

Yema's journey to becoming the epitome of French contemporary horology is truly inspiring. It's a blend of artistry and craftsmanship that has weathered various challenges and emerged stronger each time. Looking back, it's incredible to see how the brand navigated through innovation, industrialization, crisis, and revival, a testament to the dedication of individuals like Mr. Henri Blum, Mr. Bechensteiner, Mr. Jean-Paul Boillet, and the entire team who believed in Yema's vision and kept the flame alive.

As a fan of dive watches, Yema's heritage and dedication stand out to me. Dive watches have an enduring appeal, captivating collectors and enthusiasts alike. Yema's return with its remarkable timepieces and commitment to developing in-house calibers is a celebration for watch aficionados. The involvement of the community through initiatives like crowdfunding adds a unique touch, reflecting cultural significance and community engagement, which are vital aspects of Yema's success story.

Yema never stops bringing us the oldies goodies with modern specifications.

One striking lesson from Yema's journey is the importance of resilient leadership. The "Sisu" spirit, as they say, has been a driving force behind Yema's survival. It's remarkable how the brand navigated through challenging times, thanks to leaders and enthusiasts who upheld Yema's heritage and craftsmanship, even during economic downturns. Their passion and determination kept the brand's essence alive, preserving traditional watchmaking excellence from France and Switzerland.

Success in the watch industry, or any industry for that matter, is never guaranteed. Yema's story reminds us of the perseverance, innovation, and strategic vision required to thrive. From its humble beginnings in Besançon to its current endeavors in developing new calibers in-house, Yema's journey is a testament to the power of heritage, innovation, and dedication. I have no doubt that Yema's horological expertise will continue to shine brightly in the years to come.


The cyberpunk looking Yema LED is just so retro-futuristic.

I must admit, delving into Yema's story has been a rewarding journey for me. Although I've covered its timeline extensively, there are undoubtedly aspects, like the ingenious Superman's bezel lock system, that might seem overlooked. Never is this article an all-in-one package, the perfection in which eludes us all. Nonetheless, I believe I've captured the essence of Yema's history, including some captivating events that I felt compelled to share. What I want readers to take away is an authentic account of Yema's resilience in adversity, buoyed by the support surrounding this French maison. It's remarkable that after several decades, Yema thrives with the same fervor it had in Morteau's early days. This endurance sets it apart from many other brands, and credit is due to the visionary leaders who guided Yema through the years.

From our interactions, I can confidently say that Yema stands as one of the most historically significant watchmaking brands from France that Gnomon has encountered. You may not necessarily share my view, and that's perfectly fine. However, Yema's mere existence speaks volumes and is bound to pique your interest to some extent. What we can all anticipate from Yema is its relentless pursuit of innovation, consistently pushing the boundaries and infusing tool watches with added intrigue. Keeping track of Yema's developments and launches reveals this ongoing commitment. Despite the trials it has faced, Yema remains steadfast in delivering exciting offerings for us watch enthusiasts to relish.

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