Hands-On With The New YEMA LED In Steel

You may have noticed that pure digital watches are enjoying a bit of a moment, with everything from the Bulova Computron to the Timex LCA receiving their own modern re-issue. YEMA is joining that crowd with the release of their own digital watch from their back catalog circa the 1970s dubbed the LED Collection. After hitting their funding goal through Kickstarter, YEMA has officially launched the model in their online shop in steel and gold. We got our hands on a steel model to see if it lives up to the hype generated by its funding campaign.

YEMA has committed itself to staying true to the original concept of this watch, and there is no mistaking it for a modern interpretation of any kind. The case features two slabs of brushed steel framing a horizontal LED screen complete with red tint. That screen remains blank until summoned by a press of the button at the 3 o’clock position, meaning there is simply nothing on display during normal wear. It’s a bold move that we also saw on the Bulova Computron, placing the focus instead on the design of the case and bracelet, relegating the time function to secondary status. 

The case itself is octagonal, with a polished chamfer running from the screen to the bracelet serving as the only break point in the otherwise uniform surface of the case. It’s striking, and at 37.5mm in width, and 42.5mm from end to end, it’s certainly not a large watch, but the open real estate presents a large visual canvas on the wrist. The flat brushed links of the bracelet carry that texture around the wrist for maximum effect. Given that the time is not on by default, you’ll need to be comfortable approaching this as you would a bracelet of sorts, albeit one that tells time on demand. The engraved YEMA logo is the only thing breaking up the brushed steel texture of the case, which is a stylish execution and one that I prefer over it being printed on the screen itself.

On the wrist the LED is as dramatic as you’d expect. At just under 11mm in thickness, it’s not exactly svelte for a digital watch, and the broad links in the bracelet make for a somewhat stiff wear. The screen is activated with a press of the button at its edge, bringing the light-emitting diodes to life to display the time for a period of 3 seconds before turning off again. Subsequent presses scroll to the day and date, and lastly a running second count. The button at 4 o’clock is used for adjustments to the time and format, which can be set to 12 or 24 hour display. The proprietary module is useful without being overly complicated, making it approachable for everyday wear if this is your style.

The YEMA LED is offered in steel as seen here, as well as gold, which is treated steel. The steel model is priced at $249, while the gold will run you $279, which is a touch more than the Bulova Computron, but well under the Hamilton PRS. The Bulova is a bit easier to wear on its rubber strap, but the YEMA certainly makes more of a statement in appearance. Either way, this is a fun watch that would provide a nice compliment to a larger collection or be a worthy addition to a stable of all-digital nostalgia machines. More from YEMA.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.