Hands-On With The Yema Superman FAF Search And Rescue Limited Edition
When French brand Yema sent us the new Superman FAF Search And Rescue Limited Edition, I jumped on the chance to review it. I have had the pleasure of wearing Superman models in the past, but I had never had a chance to take them out for a proper review. On top of that, I really love the retro-inspired looks of this new limited-edition model. It was released last Thursday, July 14th, also known as Bastille Day. It is the biggest national day of celebration in France. As such, it was a perfect moment to release a limited edition created for the French military forces.
The Yema Superman FAF Search And Rescue Limited Edition comes with a cool story. It was not just created for the French military forces, but a specific search-and-rescue team of the Air Force. The Sauveteurs-Plongeurs Héliportés de l’armée de l’Air does search-and-rescue missions in helicopters above the sea. Back in the early 1970s, the members of this French Air Force Aviation Rescue Swimmers team had a special version of the Yema Superman (reference 24.11.17) as part of their equipment. Yema decided to bring back this special version of the Superman in a limited edition of 1,000 pieces.
A Superman with a different presence
Two things stand out immediately when presented with the new Superman FAF Search And Rescue Limited Edition — the beautiful blue dial color and the differently styled markers. These markers have a specific ’70s flair to them. I would go so far as to say that they are the make-or-break element of the watch. For me, they give the watch a great sense of style. They ensuring that the Superman doesn’t look like many dive watches out there, especially in the same price segment, and I consider that a big plus.
Overall, I love the style of the Yema Superman watches. Obviously, the brand released quite a few different versions of the watch. Going through them, I quickly noticed that I like the versions with the special dials the most. The Maxi Dial versions stand out in particular with their overtly vintage dial designs. So you know this re-issue of the 1970s classic was right up my alley in bringing something different to the table.
Vintage Superman vibes that feel right
So let’s jump into some specs. As we are used to seeing from Yema, the new Superman FAF Search And Rescue Limited Edition actually comes in two sizes. The first is 39mm, and the second is the slightly larger 41mm version. I had the pleasure of wearing the 39mm version, and it was quite a nice realization that the smaller of the two is perfect for my wrist. The case measures a very nice 39mm in diameter, 13.0mm in height, 48mm lug-to-lug, and has a lug width of 19mm. The watch is water-resistant to 300 meters and comes with either a stainless steel bracelet, a NATO strap, or a black FKM rubber strap. Yema sent us the version on the stainless steel bracelet, which is the one that I would go for anyway.
Under the 2.6mm-thick double-dome sapphire, Yema brings back that specific Marine Nationale blue dial color used in the 1970s original. I love that brushed blue dial and prefer it to the blue sunburst color of the sold-out Superman Heritage Blue. That watch is also the closest reference when it comes to the hour markers. The applied U-shaped hour markers give the dial a lot of character. The polished markers feature a small luminous dot of Super-LumiNova BGW9 placed in the center. Combined with the Superman handset with its chromed “shovel” seconds hand, it gives off a proper ’70s vibe. Contributing even more to that vibe is the date window placed at 3 o’clock with its period-correct polished frame.
From aluminum to sapphire for the Superman
The black bezel features a sapphire insert with white printing underneath. It’s a different execution from the usual aluminum insert and mimics the Bakelite bezels from the ’70s. It creates a nice contrast between the dial and the bezel in color and finish. To show that the watch is a special edition, you will find the Armée de l’Air & de l’Espace logo embossed on the case back and also on the screw-down crown. Next to the crown, you’ll find Yema’s bezel-locking system, which ensures the bezel won’t shift due to inadvertent knocks.
As I mentioned, the watch that we had for review came with a stainless steel bracelet. The H-link design of the bracelet feels very familiar and wraps comfortably around the wrist. It has a folding safety clasp with a flip lock and a diver’s extension. When I first laid eyes on the clasp, I wasn’t too impressed, in all honesty. First of all, the clasp’s curvy design does not fit the H-link design of the bracelet all that well. On top of that, the clasp’s quality could be improved. It feels flimsy and is not on par with the quality of the other elements of the watch. And the flip lock is really not the secure lock you would want and expect.
A competitive price range
Daan also mentioned the quality of the clasp in his review of the Superman 500. Developing your own bracelet from scratch and getting it produced is obviously a costly operation. This is why we find a lot of familiar standard bracelets and clasps used for many watches within this price segment. Placed into context, though, I definitely have seen better clasps in the same competitive price range of €1,000–1,500. Now, I could say it fits the ’70s charm of the watch, and that wouldn’t be wrong. I have an incredible soft spot for a beaten-down GMT-Master ref. 1675 that feels jangly and rattly. In all honesty, though, I’m not looking for that vintage appeal on this new re-edition of a classic.
Inside the case of the Superman FAF Search And Rescue Limited Edition, Yema uses the familiar Sellita SW200-1. This popular 26-jewel automatic movement operates at 28,800vph and provides 38 hours of power reserve. So it’s not Yema’s proprietary YEMA2000 caliber in this release as in the Superman 500, but instead, the “good old” Sellita workhorse. It will get the job done, but it will be interesting to see how quickly Yema will change to a proprietary movement for all its models.
Wearing the Superman FAF Search And Rescue Limited Edition
Straight out of the box, I loved wearing this version of the Superman. The 39mm skin-diver-inspired case has a very nice slim profile and sharp, thin lugs that make it a perfect fit for my wrist. And for many other wrist sizes, too, I must add. Usually, I would think the 41mm would be the pick for me, but the longer lugs make this an absolute joy to wear. As mentioned, the bracelet wraps neatly around your wrist, making for a very comfortable wearing experience. I genuinely loved wearing the watch for the week that I had it.
However, a couple of things stood out in terms of practicality. First off, the clasp is an unfortunate dissonance in the overall picture. While it didn’t present any practical issues during the days that I wore it, an update regarding style and design would be welcome. Additionally, I also wasn’t too impressed with the bezel-locking system. The bezel clamp is a small, rattling piece of metal that moves nervously after unscrewing and when using the crown. While it does serve a purpose and adds character, you can question whether that makes up for the feeling it gives off.
The dial is the star of the show
Once on the wrist, the blue dial with its standout markers is the star of the show. I personally love this vintage vibe, and that’s why I prefer this watch over Yema’s regular models. The style, the slim profile, and the comfort are absolutely great. Despite its flaws, I loved wearing the watch for the time we had it in the office. So, if you are a fan of the design and are looking for a diver that gloriously celebrates that typical 1970s style, this could be a pick for you. And if you are not a fan of the bracelet, Yema also offers different options.
Yema will produce 500 pieces in 39mm and 500 pieces in 41mm cases. The list price for the Superman FAF Search And Rescue Limited Edition will be €1,149 on a blue NATO-style strap, €1,249 on a steel bracelet, or €1,299 on a black FKM rubber strap that comes with better stainless steel deployant buckle. You can pre-order yours starting on July 20th, 2022.
I am torn when it comes to this release. I love the vintage vibes of the watch, and it wears like a dream. Its vibes are, without a doubt, its biggest charm compared to its siblings. The big question I have is whether the quality of the clasp and bezel clamp should contribute to the charm of the actual vintage piece rather than of this re-edition… To answer that question for yourself is to determine whether this timepiece is the right one for you. Having said that, all 1,000 pieces will probably sell out in a flash, and I do understand why.
For more info, you can visit the official Yema pre-order page. Let us know your take on this distinctly 1970s version of the Superman in the comments section.