Vox populi. La voix des gens. The voice of the people. Or more precisely, the voice of the fans. Last year the French brand Yema decided to follow up on numerous requests and kicked off initial work on a GMT version of the popular Superman Heritage.
The final watch design was developed in close collaboration with fans and friends of the Yema brand. Yema created a special platform called Yema CoLabs especially for this purpose. Every step was discussed with the community and design changes pivoted based on their votes. This is nothing revolutionary for various other industries, but it is still somewhat unique in the watch world. We are just glad to see another watch brand engaging with their core fan-base.
Business-wise, actively involving fans and other potential customers in the design process is an effective strategy on how to create an emotional commitment (and lasting desire) before the result takes on its final shape. It also definitely adds more to the storytelling and brand value. The Yema CoLabs platform created an opportunity to share opinions on the new Superman GMT watch amongst more than just fans. Three months later, at the end of February this year, seven designs were narrowed down to four.
Some considerable details were fine-tuned in front of the community’s eyes. Initial design drafts came with a thin second hand. I guess designers wanted to make the dial with four hands and date window cleaner, thus avoiding a second hand fighting the GMT hand. Happily, a lot of crying voices resulted in a “shovel” seconds hands coming right back to where it belongs. A good decision if you ask me.
The second design change was the result of the shovel hand implementation, as it is quite remarkable on its own. To gently blend with the dial, the GMT hand went from full red to black during the design process. Only the triangle tip remains red in the final version. It is also slightly bigger than seen on the first prototype. Another tiny detail on design development – the bezel lume dot placed at 12 was left out in the end.
It was interesting to follow the community voting on the bezel material. 41% of fans voted for ceramic, against a 33% of votes that voted for aluminium. Would it be interesting to see ceramic for the first time on a Yema? Yes, it would. But I am glad designers decided not to go that way. I’m not sure if a different bezel material is enough on its own but it might help to avoid forty-plus-years kind of headlines such as “Poor Man’s Rolex GMT-Master for sale”.
Speaking of the GMT-Master and looking at the available bezel selection, I would not go for the blue and red, despite the fact that I like it. There is no patent on color, but the real Rolex Pepsi legend is so strong that nobody dares say the opposite even though some might feel it’s been a bit overcooked in the last few years. The original Superman ref. 530016 from the 1970s had a bezel made of aluminum and today’s Yema has it in aluminum too. Whether it is for practical cost reasons or just stubborn determination to stay true to the roots, I’m a fan of going the aluminum way.
The Yema Superman Heritage GMT comes with a trio of different bezel variations to play with your shirt sleeves (Pepsi, Coke, and Blue/Grey). Traditional colors with the Pepsi and Coke bezel are an obvious run that I must say bore me a little. After some thoughts and re-visiting the prototype pictures I became more and more attracted by the less obvious blue/grey bezel. It looks better and, somehow, more Yema. Less Pepsi. Less Coke. A crazy thought – wouldn’t it be cool to come up with a red and yellow bezel with a Superman name? On a more serious note though, I am curious to learn which one of the limited series of 100 pieces sells out first. The Pepsi hype grows bigger with a growing vintage watch market, but I have a feeling that the “Yema Originals” club might be pretty big too! Let’s see at the end of this year.
The Superman is fitted with an ETA 2893-2. The case and “Oyster” bracelet along with its diver’s extension are made of brushed stainless steel. The crown and case back are engraved with Yema’s vintage Y logo, plus a bezel lock as always. This ultra-limited series with only 100 numbered pieces per bezel type can become a part of your collection for 1499 US dollars or the same amount of euros. If you compare it to the recently reviewed Bronze Superman Heritage coming through their Kickstarter campaign with an in-house movement and initial price tag of half, your heart (and wallet) might wish for some early bird discounts.
Still, I expected the price to be around the 1300 – 1500 mark for the Yema Superman GMT. But I have to admit I am really surprised to learn that it’s coming so early after the bronze limited series. One could see it as Yema saying “Hey, you just paid for the bronze Superman that is far from being delivered and here’s an offer for another limited piece?!” Pre-orders on the Yema Superman GMT start July 22nd with shipping expected for November 2019. There are only two available conclusions for the end of this year. Either the business magicians at Yema got over-excited and didn’t figure out the right timing or quite the opposite. In the end, our belief is that the positive aura emanating from a re-invented Yema that’s growing in popularity and strength will make the watches disappear as fast as a bottle of French red from our cellar. You will help decide the fate too.
During the day time, Tomas is an entrepreneur in the advertising, automotive and IT software industries. At night he turns into a watch enthusiast searching for quirky movements or vintage pieces with strong stories behind. Tomas was born and bred... read more