In 1948 Henry Louis Belmont, a methodical and pioneer French watchmaker, created his own watchmaking company under the name of Yema, Mr Belmont graduated top of his class from the National Watchmaking School of Besançon in 1931. The story goes that the name of the brand was born of the imagination of a teenager in a school contest organised by Henry Louis Belmont himself. Without realising it, the young student imagined a name that would become synonymous with fine French watchmaking.
We must go back to 1963 to discover the very first Yema Superman. A watch first developed for diving professionals thanks to its 300 meters waterproofing and safety brake stop (or bezel-lock) made it distinctive and unique. Considered indestructible, the Superman was at the time chosen by the French Air Force to equip its pilots.
Yema produced in 1966, the first Yema Yachtingraf, especially designed for the sailing world. This automatic chronograph (Valjoux movement), waterproof to 200 meters, indicated the regatta time. There have been up to 6 different versions of this model over the years
The first model of Yema Rallygraf, also saw the day in 1966 and was especially designed for the world of car racing. One of these chronographs was worn by Formula 1 driver Mario Andretti.
There exist several variations of dials for this mythical model.
In the late 60's Yema became the leading French Watch Exporter for three years consecutively (1966, 1967 and 1968) with more than 500,000 watches sold every year across 50 countries.
In 1982 a French Spaceman, Jean-Loup Chrétien, flew from the Baikonour base for a 10-day trip into space. On his wrist, he wears the very first French watch in outer space, the Yema Spationaute 1. In 1985 the Discovery shuttle takes off with on board Patrick Baudry and his Yema Spationaute II for the first Franco-American orbital flight mission.
In 1986, Yema joined Jean-Louis Etienne, a French adventurer during his 800 km solo trip across the North Pole, first human in history to achieve this. .A special tool-watch was created especially for the occasion. Resistant to extreme cold temperatures thanks to its titanium case, this model had a system to avoid the magnetic north and a sun's time for navigation.
After an investment of more than € 3 million and 4 years of Research & Development in 2011, Yema releases its in-house self-winding mechanical movement, the MBP1000, which is entirely designed, developed and assembled in France at our Morteau workshops.
French's 10th astronaut mission into space was called Proxima, in tribute to the nearest star of our Sun. In 2017, Yema and CNES work together again in creating a brand new model in honour of this new mission, the Yema Spacegraf.