Hands-On With The New Yema Urban Traveller Models — Adding Affordable ’80s Flair To The Collection
The Wristmaster Traveller is a standout series within the Yema collection. We know the French brand predominantly for its dive watches, sports chronographs, and military versions of either of the two. But last year, the Yema Wristmaster Traveller Micro-Rotor Limited Edition was one of the brand’s most exciting releases. Now Yema adds three new models with great new dials to the Traveller lineup. It’s time to find out more about the Yema Urban Traveller.
It was only last November when Yema made waves with its Wristmaster Traveller Micro-Rotor Limited Edition. Besides being the next design step in the evolution of the Traveller collection, the watches were the talk of the town thanks to the micro-rotor Caliber Manufacture Morteau 20. As Nacho explained in his article about the watches and the movement, the unveiling of this caliber was an exciting new step for the Morteau-based brand. And watch enthusiasts were all over the Kickstarter campaign, which turned out to be a huge success. All of the 1,948 pieces sold out quickly and are being delivered over the next few months.
The next step for the Yema Traveller series
So, what is next for the Traveller series? Some of you will know that last year’s micro-rotor versions were not the first Wristmaster Traveller models. Back in 2021, Yema released the first version of the Traveller with a diver-esque dial design. It featured dots and rectangular hour markers treated with “Old Radium” Super-LumiNova for a healthy injection of vintage charm. When it first came out, I wasn’t sure what to think of it. Looking back at it now, I do love that first model quite a bit. On top of that, it was a very affordable version of a modern sports watch with an integrated bracelet.
Yema combines the best of the two previous product launches for the three new Urban Traveller watches. With these, we get the affordability and movement of the “Old Radium” model with the dial layout of the micro-rotor model. But that’s not where it ends. The brand also introduced new dial designs with a pattern that stands out immediately. It’s an interesting new step for Yema’s collection of modern sports watches with an integrated bracelet.
The Urban Traveller’s design
The design of Urban Traveller is partly inspired by Yema’s Sous-Marine quartz model from the 1980s. It gives the line a sense of provenance that is always very welcome, especially in this category. But in reality, any new addition to the world of Genta-initiated modern sports watches with integrated bracelets is judged a lot more on originality. We have seen a substantial number of brands jump on the opportunity to release their take on the style. Due to this, many watch enthusiasts meet every release with a healthy dose of apprehension, and I am one of them.
When it comes to the Urban Traveller, I have to say that going hands-on was a good experience. From the images, the watch seemed to be lacking some refinement that I would need to love a watch in this category. A very fine balance can make or break a design in this genre, and I was curious to find out whether the octagonal case design was too chunky compared to the bezel dimensions or not. Another question I had was if the quality of the bracelet was good and made the watch a joy to wear. So I was happy to take the watches for a short spin to find out more.
The familiar looks
So let’s start with some basics. The three new models come with the familiar asymmetrical octagonal case and notched bezel as previous models. The case measures 39mm wide, 43.5mm long, and 11.4mm thick, and the bracelet is 24mm wide where it connects to the case. Just like previous models, the watches are water resistant to 100 meters. Upon first glance, the design appears nicely balanced. Additionally, the watches are less chunky than I expected too. Every time I see them in pictures, they look quite big, but it turns out they’re not.
The modest size and relatively slim profile are nice. However, upon further scrutiny, I can’t help but question the visual balance of the design. It feels horizontally focused — a bit “squeezed” if you will. The element that causes this is the bezel. It is wider on the left and right sides than it is on the top and bottom. My guess is that the brand did this to be unique, but sometimes, a more obvious answer is the right one. So would a round bezel shape have been much better? Or would it have benefitted from a steeper line from the “lugs” to the middle point on both sides of the case to maintain the bezel? These are interesting questions that undoubtedly came up in the design process and led to what we see here.
These three models all feature dials with a new embossed pattern. The first “Old Radium” version had a simple black dial, whereas the micro-rotor LEs had a curved horizontal teak-deck pattern. I was not a fan of the curved lines, I must say. While perhaps a fun quirk, they drew the eye upward and threw off the balance for me. These new dials, however, maintain that balance very well through a mix of different shapes to create a quite funky and unique motif. I have not seen a pattern like this on any other dials recently, but I love it here. Kudos to the Yema designers for finding a way to add depth and fun to the watch. The three color options are the “usual” silver and blue dials and a beautiful salmon-colored version.
The mix of dial elements works well together
The dial layout of all three is in line with the micro-rotor versions. The slim applied indices and thin handset work well with the pattern, creating a nice mix of functional and decorative elements. A nice detail that stood out for me is the white seconds hand. But I have to say that it worked the best on the silver dial, as it creates a nice monochromatic feel. Of the three models, I gravitated mostly toward the silver and salmon versions. The salmon dial feels the most “special,” but the silver, in my opinion, is the most well balanced.
When it comes to the bracelet, it is the same one we’ve seen with the previous models. The narrow one-piece links remind me of the bracelet on my Tissot PRX, so while wearing the Traveller models, I instantly compared them. This bracelet feels solid, but the one thing it lacks is a much-needed substantial taper. The way it is now, the bracelet feels rather wide and misses the refinement that the PRX bracelet has. I really hope Yema can add a taper to help the overall presence and, more importantly, the comfort.
Yema uses its in-house caliber YEMA2000 movement to power the Urban Traveller. You can find this automatic movement in many of Yema’s watches, including the Traveller “Old Radium” model that came before. The caliber operates at 28,800vph and has a 42-hour power reserve. It is the brand’s base movement that displays the time in hours, minutes, and seconds. I love that Yema hasn’t chosen a date version of the movement because the simplicity of the dial works really well.
Wearing the Yema Urban Traveller
It translates into a watch that is very nice to look at once on the wrist. The Urban Traveller feels like a proper luxury watch thanks to its design and mix of intricate finishes. The new embossed dials also provide a lot of finesse and style. Overall, I like what Yema has done with these new Traveller models. They have plenty of unique design characters to make them stand out while also fitting into their genre nicely.
What I wasn’t too keen on was the bracelet. While it is indeed solid and finished well, it is simply too wide. As I mentioned, it would have benefitted greatly from a nice taper. Watches in this category need a dose of refinement to make them great daily wearers, and I feel that’s where this bracelet is lacking. Right now, it feels and looks rather chunky. Additionally, I would have loved to see the Urban Traveller with the same bezel design, only round. While wearing these three models, I couldn’t stop wondering how that might make them better.
Final thoughts about the new Yema Urban Traveller
Am I being too picky when it comes to these new Yema Urban Traveller models? I don’t think I am. With the huge influx of luxury stainless steel sports watches with integrated bracelets, the reality is that you have to raise your game to stand out. Then again, since we are so spoiled for choice in this genre, personal preferences certainly come into play. So does Yema do a good job despite my criticism? Absolutely!
These new models are great additions to the Yema collection. They have a standout design that many people love, and the brand will undoubtedly attract even more new fans with these new dials. I love the three new dial executions as they bring a great deal of extra charm. Additionally, the build quality and overall level of finishing are very nice, especially considering the price of €890. For that, you will get a lot of value for money. At this price point, the Urban Traveller will have to compete with the Tissot PRX, which is stiff competition. But I am quite sure that plenty of people prefer these new Yema models over the “obvious” pick, and that group will definitely grow thanks to these new releases.
For more information, visit the official Yema website. Also, tell us what your thoughts are on the new Yema Urban Traveller models in the comments section.