Hands-On With The Charming New Yema Superman 500 GMT
In the post-COVID era, the explosive increase in the number of GMT watches is remarkable. While we collectively keep our fingers crossed that the effects of the virus will be limited with the changing of seasons, I, for one, am very happy with the increased presence of GMT watches. The GMT complication is my absolute favorite because of its practicality. As such, I am still looking for that great GMT watch that doesn’t break the bank. With the Superman 500 GMT, French brand Yema releases a great-looking option. Could this be my next watch? Let’s find out.
Yema is one of those brands that gained a lot of respect and interest from watch fans over the last few years. Recently, the brand has been making moves with the introduction of in-house-developed movements. Back in June, Daan reviewed the new Superman 500 dive watch, which is equipped with the proprietary YEMA2000 caliber. It’s a wonderful offering if you are looking for a dive watch that has great vintage charm and modern execution. Next in line is a series of three GMT models. They further build on the same aesthetic and add a GMT function. On top of that, as with most GMT watches, there is some color variation with the GMT bezels. There’s plenty to talk about, so let’s jump in.
The Superman 500 GMT collection
Yema presents us with three different executions of the new Superman 500 GMT. All three models are initially a limited edition of 200 numbered pieces. The watch will be available later as a permanent part of the collection. However, they will not be numbered as these first editions are. As always, Yema offers all three models with the choice of either a 39mm or 41mm stainless steel case. I had the pleasure of taking all three different models for a spin and providing some first insights.
The first of the three models is the Superman 500 GMT Pepsi. The watch is modeled after the iconic Rolex GMT-Master and comes with a black dial and the famous blue-and-red bezel inlay executed in aluminum. The second is the Superman 500 GMT Batman, which comes with a black dial and a blue-and-gray aluminum bezel inlay. The third model is a stand-out with its black dial and black-and-white sapphire bezel. Other than the bezel execution, the three models are technically identical.
The choice in size is an easy one
Yema sent us the black-and-white and Batman versions in 39mm and the Pepsi model in 41mm. All three come with impressive 500-meter water resistance. The increased water resistance for the Superman 500 models is a result of a newly-designed crown, a stronger 2.2mm screw-down case back, and a 2.6mm domed sapphire crystal. The effect of the domed sapphire crystal gives the watch some extra vintage flair that I love.
It’s a standard for Yema to offer its watches in two sizes. I had not witnessed a 41mm Superman model before, so it was good to see them side by side. But straight out of the gate, it’s clear that the 39mm version of the Superman 500 GMT is the better one. The 39mm case size simply looks better proportioned. Both watches are 11.52mm thick, with the 39mm model having a lug width of 19mm and a lug-to-lug of 48mm. The 41mm version has a 20mm lug width and a lug-to-lug of 49.5mm. On the wrist, it somehow seems a lot bigger than the 2mm difference in diameter would suggest. The 39mm version captures the spirit of the past perfectly, looks great, and sits comfortably on the wrist, so that would be my pick.
The stellar presence of a sapphire-crystal bezel
The dial of all three watches is a classic design that we all know. The glossy black color in combination with the printed hour markers feels familiar, linking this watch to the other Superman models. The watches come with Yema’s signature handset with an added GMT hand in familiar style with a red tip. The hour markers, hands, and 24-hour scale on the bezel are coated and filled with Super-LumiNova for readability in darker conditions. Now, as you might have guessed, the version with the black-and-white sapphire-crystal bezel provides extra lume action. On the lower half of the 24-hour scale, the white color lights up in the dark instead of the numerals.
On all three models, the date disc is executed in black with white printing, ensuring it integrates nicely with the black dial. Like all other Superman models, the watches also come equipped with a bezel-locking device at 3 o’clock. Where it adds functionality to a diving bezel, having it on a bi-directional GMT bezel seems less necessary. The bezel 24-click bezel does not really need a locking mechanism, but I understand Yema wants to stay consistent in the Superman line, and the Superman divers all have it.
The new YEMA3000 GMT caliber
Inside the case, Yema equips the new Superman 500 GMT models with the in-house-developed caliber YEMA3000. The automatic movement operates at 28,800vph, has 29 jewels, and provides 42 hours of power reserve. Compared to the time-and-date caliber YEMA2000, the YEMA3000 adds the GMT functionality in the form of a 24-hour GMT hand that can be adjusted independently. As such, it makes the Superman 500 GMT an “office/caller GMT” rather than a “true/traveler’s GMT”. The movement offers an accuracy between -10 and +10 seconds a day, which is very decent at this price point.
As we know from other office GMT movements, the 24-hour hand is adjusted by pulling out the crown to the first position. If you turn the crown forward, the date will change. If you turn the crown backward, the 24-hour GMT hand will jump in one-hour increments. If you pull the crown out to the second position, and you will be able to change the local time. Overall, the feel of the new crown on the Superman 500 GMT is very solid. Additionally, the updated bezel locking mechanism feels better than on previous Superman models. But I am still not a fan of having that dangling piece of metal every time I unlock the bezel.
Wearing the Yema Superman 500 GMT
All three Superman 500 GMT models come with the choice of two different straps or a stainless steel bracelet. We received the watches on the bracelet. It uses the same five-link design that we find on the regular Superman 500. In all honesty, I am not a fan of the design, and the quality definitely leaves room for improvement. I much prefer the H-link bracelets that Yema used for its previous Superman GMT models and for the Superman FAF Search And Rescue Limited Edition that I reviewed recently.
In that review, I also mentioned the sub-par quality of the clasp on that model. Daan also mentioned the clasp as the Achilles heel in his review of the Superman 500. And with the new GMT models, this is no different. While the bracelets are definitely comfortable to wear, the overall quality is not the best. On top of that, I don’t think the design of the clasp fits the overall design of the watch and the bracelet in particular. But once on the wrist, I have to give Yema a big compliment for the wearability and charm of the 39mm Superman 500 GMT. It is a very handsome and comfortable watch that will have you looking at your wrist regularly.
Impressions of the Superman 500 GMT
We have seen the introduction of true GMTs at lower price points in recent times. While they are certainly not the standard yet, it is very tempting to chase one of those over an office GMT. Brands like Certina, Mido, and Seiko are just a few examples of brands that offer an affordable GMT watch with an independently adjustable 12-hour hand that changes the local time, which is simply easier to use when traveling.
Having said that, Yema has introduced a very tempting offer with this new range of Superman 500 GMT watches. Are they perfect? Definitely not. But they do offer a lot. First of all, the watches look fantastic. If you love the style of vintage dive watches, the Superman range is a great collection to check out. But let’s be honest; while these watches fit the Superman dive-watch style, the vintage GMT-Master vibe is also very present. However, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that because we all love the GMT-Master. Combine that with the great Yema heritage, and this is simply a great pick.
Finding the pros and cons
Additionally, the 39mm Superman 500 GMT wears like a charm. It is a nice and sleek GMT that looks cool and is a joy to wear. While I would opt for a different Yema bracelet to make it look more to my taste, I’m sure there are plenty of people that will like the looks of this bracelet. But I will say it again: the bracelet and clasp are also the biggest weak points of the Superman models. We all know that producing great bracelets for affordable watches is a challenge. Recently, we have seen that there are definitely bracelets out there that easily surpass this Yema bracelet and clasp in terms of overall quality and finish.
Additionally, I am not the biggest fan of the bezel-locking mechanism. I simply don’t appreciate the dangling piece of metal moving around every time I unscrew the crown. And having to unlock the 24-hour GMT bezel to turn it can become quite a nuisance if you use it a lot. On top of the fact that this is not a true GMT, it simply limits the overall practicality, especially for traveling. But if you do not travel much and therefore do not change the 24-hour GMT hand or bezel a lot, this might not be an issue for you.
Pick with the heart rather than the mind
Overall, I think that adding a series of GMT models to the Superman 500 lineup was a logical move. They offer the same great vintage charm as the regular Superman 500 divers. Add the office GMT functionality and the color variations that come with that, and we end up with a series of models that look fantastic while offering great wearability and a popular complication. The Yema Superman 500 GMT is available for €1,259 with a leather strap. On the stainless steel bracelet, it comes in at €1,399, and on an FKM Viton rubber strap, it is €1,429.
While the new models might not have totally won me over, I am sure the 200 pieces of each color will find their way to new owners. Yema has a lot of fans that will love this new series of GMT watches. And I have to give the brand credit for bringing that great vintage charm that many of us love so much. Add a new in-house-developed movement and great wearability, and this new Superman 500 GMT series offers plenty to remind us why the Superman series is beloved by watch fans.
For more information, visit the official Yema website. Also, tell us your thoughts on the new Superman 500 GMT in the comments!