You don’t name a dive watch ‘Superman’ if you’re not at least a bit confident. It’s like naming your child Zeus or giving yourself the job title Chief of Excellence (which I’ve actually seen at a startup), a move so bold it must be motivated by either unbridled confidence or sheer stupidity. The French are not often referenced in regard to the early dive watch years and, yet, they innovated on the category significantly. Moreover, the Superman they created had a reputation for being hard as nails, eventually chosen by the French Air Force to equip their pilots in period (the irony of a hardcore diver eventually finding a use case in the Air Force does not escape me either).
The Superman entered the market in 1963 and featured a new approach to bezel safety measures. While most diving watches of the time were uni-directional to prevent accidental time subtraction, Yema engineered a physical lock which would clamp down on the external bezel as the crown was tightened down. As the crown was unwound, the small metal clamp also loosened. This relatively early production example sports a patent pending on its dial, which is referring to Yema’s then-pending application for this exact bezel lock.
The rest is equally quirky. The Superman used a French Ebauches or ‘FE’ calibre 3611, which features a train and hand gear driven separately by their barrel for slimmer design. Then, there is the brushed grey dial of this particular example. I have yet to come across another quite like it. The brushed tone and texture I have observed in latter Supermans, but this early patent pending signature is printed next to a 660 depth rating. That’s right, not 990. The Superman was famed for its 300m or 990 ft depth rating in 1963. I have seen 660 rated skin divers from before the Superman, but this example also features the patent pending bezel lock, leading me to believe this is a quite early production Superman. Certinaly, unlike the majority of examples to come to market of the last few years.
This example has a case which is strong, one should note all surfaces of these lugs were polished in this manner from factory. That said, there is a moderate surface wear peppering all surfaces. Its dial is quite clear of debris or corrosion. Additionally, the bakelite bezel is not cracked anywhere. It comes from a well-regarded French retailer.
Find this Patent Pending Superman here from Romain Rea listed as POA.