YEMA celebrates its 75th anniversary with a Manufacture Tourbillon calibre

Published - by Maëlle Detton — Updated on -

On the occasion of his 75th year, French brand Yema recently announced the launch of its future Manufacture Calibres, a major trend in the watchmaking world for several years now.

Now entirely designed and developed in France, in their Morteau workshops, these calibers are the fruit of a titanic process of relocation and re-industrialization begun over a decade ago by the watchmaking house.

At the dawn of a new era marked by the birth of ever more sophisticated, top-quality calibres, we wanted to relive the great (and most difficult) hours of the company, now a key player on the French watchmaking scene.

Genesis of a historic French company

It was in 1948, in the Doubsian town of Besançon, that the French watch brand Yema. Founded by Henry Louis Belmont, a descendant of a watchmaking family who graduated at the top of his class at the watchmaking school, the company quickly established its reputation for reliable, daring timepieces, notably by offering the first series of automatic chronometers made in Franche-Comté as early as 1952.

However, if we really want to understand the impact of this new company on the watchmaking market, we have to go back to 1963, the birth year of the diver's watch Yema Superman. Initially designed for aquatic professionals and renowned for its indestructible 300-metre water-resistance and patented stop-brake, its many variations will also win over the hearts of lovers of fine watchmaking.

YEMA Superman Advertising

Over the years, Yema has continued to diversify, entering prestigious sectors such as motor racing with the creation of its model Rally Count worn by Formula 1 champion Mario Andretti in 1966; water sports and its Yachtingraf which equipped the French national sailing team for the 1972 Olympic Games, or the conquest of space with the Spaceman Ithe first French watch to go into space on the wrist of cosmonaut Jean-Loup Chrétien during his Franco-Soviet mission in 1982.

Despite its dazzling success, 500,000 models sold every year and its status as a France's leading exporter from 1966 to 1968, the late 1980s marked the start of a difficult period for the brand, which struggled to establish itself in the face of competition from cheaper quartz watches. It was regularly sold to other companies. Having been part of the French company Matra since 1982, it was first sold to the Japanese company Seiko in 1988, then bought by Louis-Eric Beckensteiner for one million euros in 2004 to become "Yema Maison Horlogère Française".

After several attempts at relaunching the brand, it was placed in receivership at the end of 2008, and finally liquidated a few months later. But, fortunately, the story doesn't end there...

On February 3, 2009, a salvific press release announced the acquisition of Yema by the French group Amber watches based in Morteau. He is determined to develop the brand further, by creating new models and making it benefit from his sales strategy, based in particular on the "Made in France" concept. In 2011, after two years of development and more than three million euros invested, Yema announces the arrival of its first Calibre Maison mechanical, the MBP1000. More than 250,000 units will be sold over ten years. Since then, all the company's timepieces have been designed, assembled and manufactured in France, and produced in partnership with third-party manufacturers to achieve an extremely competitive quality/price ratio.

At the end of 2020, the brand took a decisive step forward with the launch of participatory financing for its two new technical innovations, the Calibres Maison YEMA2000 (3 needles) and YEMA3000 (GMT) with a limited reissue of his iconic Superman in two versions: Superman Steel Bronze and Superman GMT Bronze. Presented as an evolution of the first movement, these calibers not only offer greater precision, thanks to a more solid raquetterie, modified mass inverters for smoother winding of the mechanism, and an oscillating weight finish featuring fine lettering and an elegant signature, but also feature advanced complications such as a drive wheel and date spring for more precise date jumping, a date system separate from the overall assembly, and a GMT complication for the YEMA3000, enabling a second time zone to be displayed with an independent hand.

Superman Steel Bronze et GMT Bronze

Success is on the cards. Yema brings together over 1.5 million euros in less than three hours with this proposal of models widely acclaimed and equipped with calibers endorsed by the public. With this campaign, the brand enters a new chapter in its history and strikes a major blow in the French, if not global, watchmaking world, unveiling new horizons and new ambitions.

The first Manufacture Calibre

The brand wishes to pursue its ambition of offering a range of high quality calibers, whose components are manufactured in its newly renovated French workshops located in Morteau. After more than two years of research and development, on November 15, 2022, the American crowdfunding platform Kickstarter saw the launch of the first Manufacture movement micro-rotor caliber.

The gleaming Manufacture Morteau Calibre CMM.20 team the Yema Wristmaster Traveller Micro Rotora reissue of the historic model inspired by the 1960s. "Haute horlogerie accessible to all" is the motto of this ten-day campaign, which features a limited production run of 1948 pieces, a nod to the company's year of birth. Three models are offered, in colors matching the micro-rotor caliber (green, blue, black) and priced at a very competitive €1,499 ex VAT (€1,799 inc VAT), offering a 50% reduction on the future retail price of the timepiece. The brand promises delivery in monthly batches of 500 watches, from July to October 2023.

To create this micromotor caliber, with its small oscillating weight inlaid in a bridge, Yema has not hesitated to surround itself with the best. In particular, it collaborates with renowned independent watchmaker Olivier Mory, whose work has also left its mark on the creations of such greats as Audemars Piguet, Piaget and Cartier. The manufacturer accompanies the teams through every stage, from machines to caliber design.

Featuring French-made micro-components (bridges and plates) (with the exception of the regulating components, which are sourced from Swiss partners), this caliber boasts features that are on a par with the best on the market. On the technical side, the 3.7 mm-thick CMM.20 offers a 70-hour power reserve and a daily deviation of -3/+7 seconds, a chronometric performance close to COSC standards. In terms of finish, it is coated with a sublime microblasting offered in three colors, features satin-finish bevelling and reveals an oscillating weight composed of high-density tungsten. The balance wheel is made of Glucydur, a non-magnetic metal alloy that offers greater resistance to deformation and corrosion.

Caliber Manufacture Morteau 20

Once again, it's a real hit with the general public, as the brand collects nearly 2.5 million euros thanks to some 1,450 contributors who are rushing to the funding platform to support this new project.

A promising end to the year

While deliveries of chronographs featuring the CMM.20 movement are still underway, Yema has not stopped its relentless development work. In early September, the brand's General Manager, Christopher Bôle, issued a press release announcing the arrival of not one, but two new Manufacture Calibres. All the more reason for the brand's die-hard fans to rejoice.

The CMM.10, the future 3-hand Manufacture Calibre

Buoyed by the success of its crowdfunding initiative, Yema is back at it again with the forthcoming integration of its caliber CMM.10 which will once again be campaigned on the Kickstarter platform.

Thanks to their choice of limited series on the first models to feature the CMM.20, Yema's teams have taken the time to refine and confirm their production capacity within a given timeframe, and look forward to deploying their new methods on a larger scale with this new movement.

To date, the brand has given very little information about the technical details of its next Calibre Manufacture Morteau 3 hands. However, it does take care to assure us of "characteristics superior to watchmaking standards", including very high precision, improved shock resistance and a 70+ hour power reserve.

Calibre Manufacture Morteau 3 aiguilles CMM.10

A Tourbillon movement for Yema's 75th anniversary

2023 marks the anniversary of the French watchmaking house, and with a history as rich as its own, it's not surprising that Yema wanted to celebrate this 75th year in style. And so it is, with the announcement of its calibre Tourbillon Manufacture.

Once again machined in their Morteau workshops and designed by Olivier Mory, this first historic model will be offered in an ultra-limited collector's edition. Equipped with the Tourbillon movement, also known as the CMM.30. The brand is already announcing unprecedented performance and complications.

Just like its predecessor, the manually wound mechanical Tourbillon movement boasts remarkable precision and increased stability with a daily rate deviation ranging between -3 and +7 seconds. Swiss-made and specifically designed for this occasion, its large optimized barrel provides a power reserve of 105 hours and allows for a reduced thickness of the caliber. Furthermore, its optimized escapement grants it considerable longevity thanks to components machined with sophisticated LiGA technology.

Designed as a true toolwatch, the new Yachtingraf aims to be as rugged as it is refined, capable of withstanding the harshest conditions. Featuring a scratch-resistant double-domed sapphire crystal and a unidirectional sapphire diving bezel, it offers water resistance of 10 ATM as well as very high antimagnetic resistance (2000 Gauss) and real insensitivity to shocks and vibrations (up to 5000 G).

However, if one characteristic deserves special attention, it is undoubtedly its moon phase complication known as the "Maréographe," positioned at noon on the dial. Conditioned by the gravitational forces exerted by the Moon during its orbit around the Earth, the tidal cycles are indicated here by a dedicated small hand making half a turn around the dial every 6 hours, 12 minutes, 7.89 seconds to illustrate the transition from high tide to low tide, and completing a full rotation every 12 hours, 25 minutes, 15.79 seconds.

Finally, it's worth taking a look at the finishing touches of the timepiece. The sunburst black dial echoes the Yachtingraf models from the 1970s, also featuring the famous steel "baton" indices. The open heart at 6 o'clock reveals the animation of the Tourbillon mechanism, displaying its optimal finish with its nanometric black coating, achieved through the advanced Swiss ALD (Atomic Layer Deposition) technology, a revolutionary gas deposition process.

Yachtingraf Tourbillon Maréographe et CMM.30

Available for pre-order now on the official brand website, shipments of the new timepieces will begin at the end of January 2024.

Technical specifications of the YEMA Yachtingraf Tourbillon Maréographe

Technical SpecificationsYEMA Yachtingraf Tourbillon Maréographe
  • 42,5 mm x 14,5 mmCase:  42,5 mm x 14,5 mm

  • BlackDial:  Black

  • Calibre Tourbillon Manufacture CMM.30Movement:  Calibre Tourbillon Manufacture CMM.30

  • Bracelet RUBBER FKM VITON®Bracelet:  Bracelet RUBBER FKM VITON®

  • 75 steel pieces / 75 bronze piecesAvailability:  75 steel pieces / 75 bronze pieces

  • 37.33.66.SN.U6Reference:  37.33.66.SN.U6

  • EUR 9,990Price:  EUR 9,990

French excellence

Although the history of Yema has not been a smooth one, the company has nonetheless succeeded in becoming one of France's leading watchmakers, and is undoubtedly one of the best-known and most appreciated brands among French watch enthusiasts.

Its many cult models, its prowess in research and technical development, and its commitment to "Made in France" have often enabled it to stand out in a crowded watch market.

There's no doubt that the Manufacture Calibre collection, already launched with the CMM.20 calibre and soon to be extended with the CMM.10 and CMM.30, will once again legitimize its prestige and illustrate French savoir-faire.

WebsiteYEMA Yachtingraf Tourbillon Maréographe YEMA Yachtingraf Tourbillon Maréographe

When was the YEMA brand created?


The YEMA brand was created in 1948 in Besançon by Henry Louis Belmont.


Where are the YEMA workshops located?


The brand's workshops are located in Morteau, in the French department of Doubs.


What is a Manufacture calibre?


A Manufacture calibre is a movement designed in-house, produced, assembled and tuned by the same company that affixes its name to the dial.


How can I keep up to date with the launch of future YEMA Manufacture Calibres?


To keep up to date with the launch of future Manufacture Calibres, you can subscribe to the newsletter on the brand's official website.

About the author

Maëlle Detton


To continue your reading

Leonardo DiCaprio invests in sustainable, eco-responsible watchmaking

The eco-responsible Swiss watch brand ID Genève has just announced the closing of its fundraising campaign and the participation of American actor and producer Leonardo DiCaprio as a shareholder. Find out more about the commitments and innovative projects of this activist watch brand, which has won over one of the world's most environmentally committed stars in our article.

Published - by Maëlle Detton

The 10th Only Watch edition at the heart of the storm

For the past few weeks, the 2023 edition of the charity auction has been facing what could well be the most difficult episode in the history of the Only Watch project. Following the withdrawal of one of the most important houses from the catalog, the watchmaking community has been left wondering why. Let's take a look at the reasons behind this controversy, and shed some light on recent events.

Published - by Maëlle Detton

Only Watch 2023, the charity watch auction

The prestigious Only Watch charity auction returns for a highly anticipated 2023 edition for watch enthusiasts. Find out all about the date and venue of this not-to-be-missed event, as well as the participating watchmaking houses and their exceptional pieces on display this year.

Published - by Maëlle Detton

New Frédérique Constant : Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture

What are the special features of the Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture and its three-complication movement? What models are available for sale? Find out all you need to know about this eventful collection and its new FC-735 caliber, as well as a look back at Frédérique Constant's landmark innovations and commitments, in our detailed article.

Published - by Maëlle Detton