This is not the first time in the brand’s history that a bridge has been created through collaboration on a watch design project.
Today, on this symbolic date of July 14th, Yema presents its Superman AAE Search and Rescue. This limited-edition of 1000 pieces is available to French Air Force and Space Force pilots and the general public. This edition celebrates and highlights the work of the Air Force’s elite Helicopter Rescue Team (SPHAA).
Exactly 48 years ago, in 1974, the Air Force asked Yema for a watch to provide its elite rescuers with. A specialty of the army that had been created less than 10 years earlier, in 1968.
But, to handle the watch, he had to leave Paris and head east, to Morteau. A trip under the sign of adventure. The watch was only presented to us once we were there.
While the Parisian relief disappears to give way to the Jura mountains, we are still in the dark. At the beginning of July, a few days before its official announcement, Yema’s teams have kept it a secret despite our repeated requests.
The only information William shared with us was the lauch date: July 14th. This is a very symbolic date because it marks the French national day, Bastille Day. Knowing this, and considering the brand’s partners, we could determine that the next novelty would be linked to a French military institution. But which one? The French Navy or the French Air and Space Force (AAE)?
The name of the model already allows you to make a relatively sure choice. However, not knowing either the model or the name, we were not able to make such a guess.
Approaching the end of the day, we had to be patient and let our imagination do its work.
The same evening, I tried again to contact William by message. He tells me that he will not be in Morteau to welcome us because he is away shooting the novelty. Where? When? Why? So many questions that will only be answered the next day.
The building is majestic, the sun is shining. A lot of work has been done since our last visit. It must be said that it goes back to a few months already.
However, what has not changed is the spirit that reigns in this building. It’s full of life and family spirit at the same time. It’s good to spend time there. Everyone has a smile on their face and like an anthill, you feel as if you are driven by energy and creative desire.
Let’s leave the parking lot and go up. As a nod to the military institution, we fly to the top floor. In a room adjoining the workshop, a tray with a novelty in its center is waiting on the table.
Its look is definitely vintage! The first thing that strikes me is the style of its markers. In the shape of a U, they graduate the dial while encircling it. The presence of the bezel block, the second hand and the shape of the hands allow me to recognize a Superman without even checking.
While I put it on my wrist and observe it from all angles, the teams are silent. They let me observe it and will give me the necessary information in due time.
Some of you may have recognized the 1974 Yema Superman that was sent to the Air Force to equip its rescue divers, its good readability and its waterproofness to 300 meters fulfilling perfectly the specifications.
Available on a steel, rubber or nato strap, the Superman AAE Search and Rescue keeps the soul of the first piece. A work of reliability was carried out and, although using a double dome sapphire crystal, SuperLuminova and modern materials, the watch seems to come straight out of the 70s.
Everything is clean, everything is neat, the model is perfect. It is the version with a steel bracelet I wore on my wrist all day. If it is available in 39 mm and in 41 mm, it is the 41 version I wore. Despite my small wrist, the 41 mm diameter did the job perfectly. The work on the lugs and on the case makes it very comfortable to wear.
While I was wearing the watch, William was in contact with this elite corps. He was lucky enough to be able to use this bridge established between the brand and the Air Force and Space. He shares his experience with us to give you a glimpse into the world of these guardian angels of the air. A universe that animates this watch.
This connection, which will soon celebrate its golden jubilee, is particularly interesting because rescue divers from the early years are still alive and can testify. This is the case of Captain Steve Slack.
“I am one of the first Helicopter Rescuers of the French Air Force and for the past 50 years, I have worn my Belle on my wrist day and night. That’s the name I gave to my Yema Superman dive watch.” Just naming his watch illustrates the special relationship he cultivates. It has lived with him through his many interventions. It contains his experience and reminds him of all his stories.
To this he added: “For all these years, it has remained faithful to me. Through all the missions and adventures around the world, in all weathers, hot, cold, wet and dry. It has never failed. It is a robust, reliable and accurate tool.”
The job of the helicopter diver has not changed. Their missions remain the same. Nicknamed the “Ploufs”, they are primarily dedicated to the rescue of Air Force pilots who have crashed at sea. But they are also the last resort for all other airmen when conventional means cannot intervene. They go where no one else can.
If their missions don’t change, why change the design? The soul of this elite corps remains unchanged, as does the soul of this watch. It symbolizes the durability of this institution.
I hope I never have to deal with them because that would mean I was in a very delicate situation. William had the chance to be in contact with them and what he found most impressive during the shooting, “was to be directly on the base of Cazaux where this specific unit is located and to be able to walk on the tarmac as close as possible to a Caracal.”
Being in contact with “real soldiers, real pilots, real divers” as he puts it, allows him to see the emotion and interest that emerges when they take the product in hand.
“It’s an indescribable joy when they buy into the project and take the plunge and get one. We’ve got it right and it’s a great reward for us. We create watches like this primarily out of passion, but also to celebrate the work of these wonderful people.”
In addition to maintaining this bridge, Yema supports the FOSA. The mission of the Fondation des Œuvres Sociales de l’Air is to provide assistance to the personnel of the French Air Force and Space, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Météo-France and their families who are in difficulty following an “accident of life” that has happened to one of their own. The brand supports the foundation’s actions by donating 12.5% of the price of each Superman AAE Search and Rescue sold.
In addition to preserving the story that links these two actors, you will also support this work if you decide to take the plunge and buy one.