HANDS-ON: The Yema Urban Traveller delivers integrated-bracelet watches in a soft palette of summery dialsFergus Nash
Earlier this year, Yema indicated their intentions to spice up their collections with the release of the Urban Field. With their Wristmaster Traveller Micro-Rotor being such a barnstorming hit last year too, it made perfect sense for the next experiment to evolve as the Yema Urban Traveller. Clinging to that 1970s retro swagger, this new trio of references modernises the look with a soft palette of summery dials and an affordable price tag.
The trend of integrated-bracelet watches seems to be even more popular now than in its origins of the 1970s, but with modern design techniques that can only be a good thing. The case of the Yema Urban Traveller doesn’t pull any punches from its geometric extremes, with a scalloped octagon framing the entire watch. Within that funky silhouette, a rounded porthole with gear-like steps forms the thick bezel — an edge of polished steel sharpening up the appearance of the brushed surface. Cutting into the side of the case to create guards is the crown, non-screwing but still secure enough for 100m of water resistance.
Wearability has always been a priority for Yema in the last handful of years, and they were one of the first brands to ride the wave of popularity for smaller cases. The diameter is a neat 39mm with a compact lug-to-lug length of 43.5mm, however there is a protruding end-link for the integrated bracelet that effectively extends it a little bit. Overall, it’s still a watch that will lend itself well to wrists of all sizes. The 11.4mm thickness prevents it feeling too bulky, despite its robust appearance and presence.
Yema’s definition of Urban is definitely linked to a casual nature, but that hasn’t stopped them from designing an intricate dial. With a near-honeycomb pattern arranged from a variety of shapes, the surface of the highly textured dial almost appears to be cracking like a salt lake viewed from above. It’s a style which can still be appreciated from afar, but also rewards close inspection. The three colours are soft to ease the harshness of the texture, culminating in a cool, summery vibe. A pale blue will surely be the most popular option, while the salmon colour offers a sort of classy refinement. The white dial is incredibly crisp, and by far the most legible with bold, black outlines on the hands and indices.
Those applied markers along with the baton hands are filled with BGW9 Super-LumiNova, a long-lasting luminous paint with a blue glow after dark. Using white (or black on the white dial) as the second hand’s colour firmly positions these variants as sports watches. The dial text is minimal with only the Yema logo and the word “automatique”, aiding the slight vintage flavour and keeping focus on the dial pattern.
Manufacturing technology has come a long way since the 1970s, and although integrated bracelets used to come with a slight disclaimer of ambiguous comfort, quality has much improved. The solid steel links of the Yema Urban Traveller cascade off each other nicely, and the all-brushed finish keeps things looking rugged and adventurous. A butterfly clasp is fitted to ensure the sleek look goes uninterrupted, and features brand engravings on the final links.
Hidden behind an engraving of Yema’s crest on a steel caseback is the in-house calibre YEMA2000. Having the ability to manufacture their own calibers is quite a big deal for a brand of this size, and it’s one of the reasons why they’re such great value for money. The YEMA2000 is the second generation, designed for simplicity and quality. This no-date variant operates at a smooth-ticking 4Hz, has 29 jewels and a 42-hour power reserve. It winds automatically in both directions of the swinging rotor, and has an average daily accuracy of +/-10 seconds per day.
The Yema Urban Traveller pricing and availability:
The Yema Urban Traveller is now available for preorder, with watches shipping from September 2023. Price: US$890
|Case Dimensions||39mm x 43.5mm x 11.4mm|
|Case Material||Stainless steel|
|Dial||White, blue, or salmon|
|Strap||Integrated steel bezel|
|Power Reserve||42 hours|
|Availability||Available now for preorder, shipping from September 2023.|