Sunday Morning Showdown: Yema Superman 500 GMT Vs. Serica 8315 GMT Chronomètre
It’s that time again! There’s no moment to relax for two of our writers on Sunday mornings. As you all know by now, Fratello team members battle it out in our Sunday Morning Showdown series. Ultimately, you, our wonderful readers, have the final say on who wins. This week, Nacho and Jorg go up against each other, choosing two affordable French GMT watches to duke it out. Nacho is here to defend the brand-new Serica 8315 GMT Chronomètre. Jorg is taking on the massive task of beating it with the recently introduced Yema Superman 500 GMT. Let the battle commence! En garde!
There is something magical about GMT watches. They can be perfect travel companions when crossing multiple time zones, and many of us love them for this functionality. On top of that, GMTs have become increasingly popular in recent times. We have seen quite a few brands release their own take on a GMT watch. Two brand-new additions to the affordable GMT category come courtesy of two French brands. The first is the Yema Superman 500 GMT, which debuted shortly after the brand’s recent Superman 500 dive watch. The second is the Serica 8315 GMT Chronomètre, which was released just a few weeks ago. With two French GMT watches battling it out for eternal glory in our Sunday Morning Showdown series, it will be an epic battle!
Previously, on Sunday Morning Showdown…
But first, let’s take a look at last week’s battle of luxury quartz watches. In the Battle Of The Batteries, Thomas made a case for substance over style. It turned out to be the winning strategy too as Grand Seiko easily defeated Daan’s beloved Cartier. Grand Seiko ended up with 74% of the votes, and Cartier took 26% of the votes. But it was especially interesting to read the comments because they showed that the discussion about style versus substance is a very relevant one. In the end, technical excellence conquered traditional design brilliance in last week’s battle. It’s an interesting topic that we will surely revisit in future match-ups. For now, let’s move on to this week’s battle. Gentlemen, take it away!
Jorg: Yema Superman 500 GMT
When Yema announced its GMT version of the new Superman 500 series, I was intrigued to find out more. That’s why I was more than happy to take the three different versions that we received in the office for a spin. They came fresh on top of the release of the new Yema Superman 500 diver that Daan wrote a review about. And I liked wearing the regular Superman 500 for a bit when we had it in the office. I very much appreciate a couple of things about the Yema brand that I find in almost every release. The most important is, without a doubt, that the brand’s watches look good. Yema does a great job at ensuring that its timepieces look balanced and attractive, and the new Superman 500 GMT series is no different.
I must add that I am referring to the 39mm version of the watch. As most of you know, Yema offers the watches in the Superman series in 39mm and 41mm cases. After seeing and wearing both, it became clear to me that there is only one right size for these watches — the smaller 39mm. With the 41mm version, I missed the visual balance of the overall design, and on the wrist, the watch felt unnecessarily big. But that’s completely different for the 39mm version. It’s where all the pieces of the puzzle come together perfectly.
The ingredients for making a great GMT
Let’s start off with some basic specs. The new Superman 500 GMT comes with a 39mm stainless steel case that is 11.52mm thick without the crystal and 13.92mm with the crystal, 48mm from lug to lug with a 19mm lug spacing. It’s a set of dimensions that make this a perfect fit for a variety of different wrist sizes. And that brings me to the second aspect I love about the Yema Superman series: they wear like a charm. The overall profile and the typical case shape with its long lugs in combination with a stainless steel bracelet make the Superman a joy to put on the wrist every single day. And the 500m water-resistance rating becomes even more impressive considering how slim the case is.
The Superman 500 GMT comes with three different bezel executions. The first is a classic “Pepsi” bezel in blue and red, and the second comes in gray and blue. Both of these bezel inserts are executed in aluminum. The third option is a sapphire insert in black and white. Not only does it sport the same color combination as the Serica, making it the true competitor, but it also adds the great functionality of extra lume action. On the lower half of the 24-hour scale, the white color lights up in the dark instead of the numerals. This is great for reading the time in a dark airplane cabin and a fun detail in general.
The comfort of familiarity
But while we are the subject of bezels, that’s where my biggest issue with the Serica comes in. As you know, Nacho, I love the Serica brand. I admire the passion and determination that its founder Jérôme Burgert has for creating watches that stand out for their design and details. I greatly appreciate that Burgert pushes the boundaries of what we deem as comfortable, and I love designs in which I have to get used to the intricate details. Good design challenges you, and Serica designs do that. But this should never take priority over pure practicality. And that’s where the new Serica 8315 GMT Chronomètre pushes the boundaries a bit too hard.
I love a GMT to have a 24-hour bezel with a stand-out 24-hour hand that indicates the time in an additional time zone. And that’s exactly what the Yema delivers. It has a classic 24-hour bezel with two colors indicating day and night. As a result, one quick glance is enough to read both the home time and the local time. The Serica has a mirrored 12-hour bezel with “Ante Meridiem” and “Post Meridiem” text to indicate the time before or after noon. First of all, a lot of places in the world do not use the AM/PM system in official communications or writing, so that could be confusing, especially when traveling.
A case of simple preferences
Additionally, the placement of “Ante Meridiem” and “Post Meridiem” centered above the 12 o’clock markers can also be misleading. Both AM and PM start at 12 o’clock, and technically, the beginning of the word should be aligned with the 12 o’clock markers. And the choice to use a lollipop hand for a 24-hour hand is remarkable. Lastly, I like symmetry. Burgert’s design trick to make the white “day” part of the bezel bigger than the black “night” part is a nice visual trick to make the day longer than the night. But to sacrifice the simple idea of visual symmetry to make a design look different is pushing it. I know Grand Seiko also does it with the SBGJ237 and SBGJ239, but why meddle with something that is already fine as it is? And that’s where the Yema delivers on pure practicality and great looks.
Speaking of practicality, both of these watches are powered by so-called “office/caller GMT” movements instead of a “travel/flyer GMT” movements. I know that we both would have loved to see the latter, but that fact cannot be decisive in today’s battle. The Yema is powered by the in-house caliber YEMA3000, which operates at 28,800vph, has 29 jewels, and provides 42 hours of power reserve. It also offers an accuracy of +10/-10 seconds a day. It does not beat the COSC-certified Serica, but I would not consider it a decisive factor as the numbers on Yema’s movement are very decent.
Is there such a thing as perfection?
Is the Yema Superman 500 GMT perfect? No, far from it. My biggest issue is the caller GMT movement. But as I said, both of today’s contenders have this same style of caliber. A second thing is the flimsy and unnecessary bezel lock on a GMT. The last thing I am not the biggest fan of is the stainless steel bracelet that Yema uses for its Superman 500 models. I simply do not like the design of the bracelet. Additionally, the overall quality of the bracelet, especially the clasp, is debatable. This is why I would love to swap that bracelet for the brand’s H-link bracelet that I do like. I had the pleasure of trying out the great Yema Superman FAF Search And Rescue Limited Edition for a review and loved wearing that watch. Sure, it also suffers from a lackluster clasp, but wearing that watch was an absolute joy.
There is a certain vintage charm to Superman 500 GMT on that bracelet that I would adore. And I simply prefer wearing my GMT on a bracelet. It looks great and is a sturdy option while traveling the world and taking a beating. It’s something that Serica does not offer. It comes with a heavily tapering leather strap that is both beautiful and comfortable but would leave me worried. And I don’t want to worry about my watch while traveling. At €1,399 on a bracelet, the Yema is not only the more affordable but also my preferred option. But over to you, Nacho, to convince our readers otherwise.
Nacho: Serica 8315 Chronomètre
Thanks, Jorg! It’s really quite an interesting challenge to put these watches up against each other, especially with us as writers. I think it’s safe to say that we both enjoy and appreciate both the Yema and the Serica. That said, I’m very glad to have the privilege of championing the Serica. It’s a watch that I have a somewhat special connection with. Back at the end of March, after the first day of Watches And Wonders, a couple of the other Fratello team members and I met up with Jérôme Burgert of Serica for a drink. At that point in time, we had already experienced the 5303 and the 4512, and our enthusiasm for the brand had a solid foundation. When the question of what the next thing would be for Serica emerged, Jérôme was not quick to put his cards on the table.
After a little bit of interrogation, eventually, he revealed that he was working on a GMT. He showed us an early rendering on his phone and told us a little bit about it. And though I can’t speak for my teammates who were there, I can attest to having lived the following months in excited anticipation for the Serica GMT to drop. Lo and behold, a mere seven months later, the Serica 8315 GMT Chronomètre appeared at Fratello HQ. The excitement was palpable as everyone gathered around for a turn at a closer look. It’s this genuine excitement that truly speaks to the merits of Jérôme and Serica. Keep in mind, this is a brand that has only been around for a couple of years. The fact that a new watch causes this kind of Christmas-morning-like excitement will surely have the Yema quivering in its equally French boots.
The Serica 8315 GMT Chronomètre magic
So let’s kick things off with an overview of the watch’s specs. If you’re familiar with Serica’s brilliant diver, introduced just last year, then a lot of this will ring a bell. Overall, the looks are very much related to the 5303, but there are several subtle changes. The new 8315 comes with a 200m-water-resistant stainless steel case. It measures 39mm in diameter, 46.5mm from lug to lug, and 12.3mm thick with a 20mm lug spacing. These dimensions align with the 5303 (except for the case thickness, which has increased by a marginal 0.1mm). If you’re familiar with what these numbers mean, you’ll quickly realize that it’s a watch firmly set in the latest definition of the size “sweet spot” (for a lot of us, anyway). In its lug-to-lug, it’s certainly more wearable than the Superman 500 GMT with its 48mm wingspan.
The case has the same beautifully flowing lines that we have come to know from the 5303. It is complemented by the 2mm-thick domed sapphire crystal, which accounts for a fair chunk of its 12.3mm thickness. I will give that point to Jorg; the difference in thickness and water resistance is impressive. The watch features a black enameled dial that comes with the same Serica signature dots-and-dashes layout as the 5303 divers. The slightly domed luminous hour markers are treated with vintage Super-LumiNova C3. As you can see, the handset is coated in white lacquer for contrast and legibility. Finally, the hour and minute hands are also filled with the same Super-LumiNova. Inside the 8315 GMT is the chronometer-certified Soprod C125 movement.
Call, don’t fly
Speaking of the movement, the one major gripe I have with the Serica also applies to the Yema Superman GMT models. Now, one thing you should know is that I love the GMT complication. Keeping track of another time zone, especially when traveling, has a certain romantic appeal. The story goes back to when jet-based travel first became widely available to the masses. And there’s something about that mid-century jet-set lifestyle that I very much appreciate. But I’m also a bit picky when it comes to my GMT watches. So much so, in fact, that I haven’t owned one before. This is mostly due to price. My grail, as some of you may know, is also my ideal version of a GMT watch — the Rolex Explorer 16570 — and the difference there, as with many others, comes down to the movement.
As Jorg explained, these are “caller” or “office” GMTs. This means that you can independently set the GMT hand in one-hour increments. This is in contrast to “flyer” GMTs, on which you independently set the 12-hour hand to the local time while the GMT hand remains fixed at your home time for quick reference. Ultimately, it’s a matter of preference, as they both do the job. But it is slightly easier to set and read a flyer GMT than a caller. In terms of the other movement specs, though, I believe that the Serica comes out ahead in spite of it looking like the underdog. That’s not because of the two hours less of power reserve (a marginal difference) or because of the three fewer jewels in the movement. Rather, it is because it does not use an in-house caliber from a (relatively) small brand. The Soprod C125 in the Serica will be easier for any watchmaker to service.
Chic versus cheesy
Here is where we finally get to see the Serica 8315 shine and the Yema start to fall a little bit flat. The first thing I’ll refer to here is the colorway of these watches. One of the Yema Superman 500 GMTs takes a page straight out of the vintage Rolex GMT-Master II handbook. And though the Pepsi livery certainly looks great, I can’t help but think that I’d rather go with something more original. The blue-and-dark-gray version is slightly different from that of Rolex’s “Batman” models, but it’s still a bit too on the nose for me. Finally, that leaves us with the black-and-white model. It’s a fair match-up for the Serica, which also has the same color combination. The black-and-white Superman’s sapphire bezel insert also differs from the other two, which feature anodized aluminum.
Both of those options are fairly easy to execute. Aluminum bezel inserts have been around since the 1950s, and a clear sapphire ring over a thin black-and-white insert is also not too complex. Serica was a bit more ambitious here and went with a full-ceramic bezel insert. Technically, this was extremely difficult to achieve as each insert is cut from a solid block of two-tone ceramic. Getting this right took time, research, and ambition. The same goes for the 8315’s overall design. It’s far more considered and self-aware. Jérôme certainly didn’t just trace over something from the past. Instead, he gathered classic design elements, gave them a subtle twist, and created something that truly stands on its own rather than on the shoulders of past designs.
Better no bracelet than a jangly number
This is something that applies not only to the bezel and dial design. It also applies to the case and especially to the bracelet. When you look at the Yema, its design is unmistakably vintage-inspired, but somehow, the lines feel blocky and a bit rough. In execution, there’s also something about the Yema Superman 500 GMT that feels a bit flimsy. Don’t get it twisted; I can certainly enjoy that as part of a true vintage watch. I have plenty of vintage watches that feel like a hard enough shake would have them falling apart. But in a new watch, this is a bit off-putting. Plus, that bezel lock… Don’t even get me started. The back of it is sharp and makes unscrewing the crown an unpleasant experience, yet one you’ll repeat time and time again should you wish to set the bezel.
And finally, one of the biggest wins for the Serica is the Yema’s poor bracelet. I really feel that a good bracelet can be found at this price point. Zodiac makes a great one, as does the small brand HTD. But Yema truly drops the ball here. Jorg won’t know this, as I’ve been the one to resize the bracelet on these watches, but it’s a task that requires nerves of steel, a strong coffee, and a free afternoon. The result, in the end, does not make the time feel well-invested. Yema has made some good bracelets in the past. The H-link option found on the Superman FAF Search And Rescue Limited Edition is a great example. But from end link to clasp, you’re better off ditching this one for a NATO strap. Or anything else, for that matter. Serica nailed it with a beautiful, slim, tapering leather strap.
Wrapping things up
Okay, okay! I promise I’ll do my best to wrap things up here. It seems we really struck a nerve with the contenders in today’s Sunday Morning Showdown. It’s clear that both Jorg and I appreciate these watches but also share some frustration with their flaws. However, what I refuse to see as flaws are some of the special, quirky details that make the Serica 8315 GMT stand out in the crowd. Sure, it would have been easy to go with a plain 50/50 bezel with a simple 24-hour scale. It’s been done before, countless times over. But what makes Serica so great is that the design looks to break with the norm and try something new. Is it a risky move? Sure. Will it turn some people away from the watch? Absolutely. But it’s bold, it’s different, and it’s undeniably Serica.
Jorg already covered this in his section, so I won’t go into too much detail, but there are two things I want to address. The first is the “Ante Meridiem” and “Post Meridiem” text on the bezel. I don’t take any issue with their placement. Sure, they could be squeezed over to the side of the 12 o’clock marks, but you said it yourself, Jorg: it’s all about symmetry. But whereas design calls for symmetry, nature often delivers imperfection. And the length of the black versus the white section reflects that imbalance that we find in nature. Plus, it also doesn’t cause a number to be sliced in half and rendered practically illegible. Whereas the Yema bezel is pedestrian and irreproachably basic, the Serica offers something special. And overall, for the €176 more that you pay (ex. VAT), I think you do get a better and more interesting watch.
It’s up to you now
So, which side are you on? Would you pick Jorg’s Yema Superman 500 GMT, or would you go for Nacho’s brand-new Serica 8315 GMT Chronomètre? With the similarities in functions and colors, this should be a close matchup. It will be interesting to find out who the winner will be. Let’s bring this one to a vote, and down in the comments, please let us know whose side you’re on and why.