One of the more exciting new releases seen at the recent Windup Watch Fair in New York City came from a brand that has been reliably releasing high quality sports watches for some time, offering a funky alternative to more standard, down the middle fare. Yema’s watches, particularly those in the iconic Superman family, feel like something almost out of time. Based on heritage designs, the watches feel like artifacts, but different enough from most contemporary watches to feel modern themselves. Their latest venture feels decidedly more ambitious than releasing another heritage inspired diver, and it’s modern not just in the design of the watch (and movement), but the method by which it will be released. Yema is employing a Kickstarter funding model for the release of the new Wristmaster Traveller Micro-Rotor, an integrated bracelet sports watch with a dynamic dial and a movement that we didn’t see coming.
Yema fans and some enthusiasts will already be familiar with the Wristmaster, which has existed within the Yema collection for some time. It’s their take on the classic stainless steel integrated bracelet sports watch, and features a geometrically intricate 8-sided case with a distinctive circular bezel borrowed from Yema’s Sous-Marine quartz watch made in the 1980s. In its standard form, the Wristmaster is 12mm thick. That’s not too bad for a robust steel sports watch. But the new version seen here comes in at an impressive 9.2mm thick and measures 39mm across, which should make for a substantial difference in terms of the actual wearing experience.
The Wristmaster Traveller Micro-Rotor was slimmed down so considerably thanks to what I think most will agree is the watch’s key feature: a brand new caliber that Yema is touting as their first Manufacture Caliber. Yema has made what they refer to as “in-house” calibers for some time, so the terminology here is a little confusing. An explanation on their website would seem to suggest that the in-house movements are standard off-the-shelf calibers that Yema has improved with their own custom parts. The new Manufacture Caliber, according to the brand, is the product of the work and research of a team of four Yema watchmakers, with resumes that include time at brands like Audemars Piguet, Omega, Cartier, and other high profile brands.
In any case, regardless of terminology, the movement in the new Wristmaster is dramatically thinner and more compact than prior Yema movements thanks to the use of a micro-rotor. Movements with a micro-rotor effectively lose an entire layer in movement architecture as the oscillating mass is integrated into the movement itself. A thinner movement means a thinner watch, and it’s also nicer to look at (if you’re into that sort of thing) since you don’t have a large rotor obscuring half of the caliber.
And that brings us to another unique feature of the Wristmaster Traveller Micro-Rotor, and that’s what you’ll see when you flip the watch over. The movement of the Wristmaster has been finished with a combination of satin brushing and micro-blasting in a color that matches the dial. In the case of the blue and green dialed variants, this results in some pretty unusual views through the exhibition caseback. You just don’t expect to see a solid block of color when you flip a watch over. The dials, for their part, are very nicely executed with a thick wave pattern and the “Wristmaster” wordmark utilizing an uncommon cursive typeface.
This is a fairly limited Kickstarter project, with only 1,948 watches being produced across the three dial variants. Why Kickstarter? That’s a good and fair question. Yema is not an upstart brand – they’ve been around in one form or another since 1948 (hence the LE number), so they aren’t the typical Kickstarter brand that is looking to be discovered or create a viral, breakout hit that will provide a launching pad to future projects. Yema notes that they’ve made considerable investments in recent years in moving production of key components in-house, so perhaps the Kickstarter crowdfunding model is a move to recoup some of that investment prior to production. It’s an unorthodox move, for sure.
Yema’s Kickstarter goes live on November 15, and delivery of the Wristmaster watches is scheduled to take place between July and October of next year. There is only one backing level, which means anyone who takes part in the Kickstarter gets the same product for the same price, which in this case is € 1,499. Yema notes that a future, regular production version of this watch will have a retail price of € 3,000.
For more information on Yema’s new project, check out their Kickstarter page right here.