The Yema Wristmaster Traveller is more than just your typical sports watch...
With a history dating back to 1948, Yema is one of the most famous watchmaking companies to come out of France, creating the first French watch to be used in the inhospitable colds of Antarctica and the vastness of space. For nearly 50 years, they have also supplied watches to the French armed forces, providing a variety of tool watches to multiple branches of the military.
Fast forward to the present, and Yema has a wide range of celebrated modern watch models under its belt (think Yema Navygraf or the Superman Heritage), also delighting long-standing Yema fans by reinventing their more vintage models. For 2021, the Monteau-based watchmaker released three modern iterations of their late 1960’s Yema Wristmaster. These three new releases include two versions of the Wristmaster Adventurer, which stays true to the original design, and a more modern interpretation for the Wristmaster Traveller, which I will focus on in this article.
The Yema Wristmaster Traveller was originally offered as part of a Kickstarter campaign, designed by Yema’s Managing Director and Head of Design Christopher Bôle to pay tribute to the design elements of its 1960's predecessor while also meeting the 21st century demand for luxury sports watches with integrated bracelets. The result is a watch that looks contemporary, sleek and sporty with nods to retro design of 60’s and 80’s era watches. The Traveller is a smidge wider than the Adventurer with a diameter of 39mm, balanced nicely with a shorter lug-to-lug of 43.5mm.
The octagonal shape of the 316L stainless steel case features some quirky design details like the Yema signed crown and scalloped bezel, framed by the inward and outward curves of the case. Surprisingly, the case doesn’t feel like an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak homage thanks to the absence of screws. The case also tapers seamlessly into the integrated retro-futuristic bracelet, featuring the same brushed surfaces with polished edges and signed butterfly clasp. The decision to adopt an integrated bracelet might discourage those who like to swap out their straps regularly, but the look of this steel bracelet with its ‘Y’ shaped links (very on-brand for Yema) is truly exceptional and makes the watch a cohesive package, you won’t even want this watch on any other strap.
Though the Traveller is undoubtedly the more modern counterpart of the Yema Wristmaster collection, the dial is still clearly vintage feeling. The glossy black dial housed under sapphire crystal utilises faux patina markers and hands, with a thick profile on the hour markers giving the dial another dimension and contrast when viewed from different angles. The lume is clear and highly visible using Old Radium Super-LumiNova for a retro look even in complete darkness. The dial looks clean and uncluttered, featuring only a date-display tucked into 3 o’clock and the Yema logo with a whimsically scribbled ‘Wristmaster’ taking up little dial real-estate, while staying true to the aesthetic of the original Wristmaster of the 60’s.
The Yema Traveller shares a similar caseback to the Adventurer, with an engraved and embellished ‘Y’ motif, though it’s noticeably more detailed than the caseback of the original Wristmaster. Underneath you’ll find Yema’s in-house YEMA2000 movement, with 42 hours of power reserve and maximum variation of +/- 25 seconds a day, really giving movements like the ETA 2824-2 a run for its money.
Overall, the Yema Wristmaster Traveller is a great neo-vintage timepiece, offering the design of a contemporary integrated sports watch with nods to vintage aesthetics and charming references to its late 60’s predecessor. Priced at £599 the Wristmaster Traveller successfully packs a lot into its design brief at this price point, offering fair value for money to watch fans looking for a timepiece that’s vintage feeling but still offers something different.
Be sure to check out our full collection of Yema watches here.