French Watchmaker YEMA Reimagines its Colourful ’60s Racing Chronograph
Fresh off the back of TAG Heuer’s reworking of its ’70s motorsport chronograph, the Monza, French brand YEMA mines its own rich Formula One heritage. Not to be outdone by the big boys, YEMA has taken a classic design from its own back catalogue and revamped it for a modern audience. Unlike TAG Heuer’s flamboyant Monza which boldly updates the original design, YEMA has opted to recreate the vintage charm of the original watch. And unlike motor racing’s most iconic watch, the Rolex Daytona, the YEMA Rallygraf is a very affordable and accessible timepiece.
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The racing chronograph is an established design now and it’s easy to forget the smaller brands that helped popularise the style. Yes, Niki Lauda wore a TAG Heuer chronograph on the Formula One podium, and Paul Newman made the Rolex Daytona a legend, but Mario Andretti was there too, with a YEMA strapped to his wrist. First launched in 1966, the Rallygraf is a handsome watch that sits comfortably alongside the great sports chronographs of the era.
YEMA’s latest iteration of the Rallygraf remains faithful to the original design while offering colourful variations. There are also the standard panda and reverse-panda dial options. Constructed from stainless steel and powered by Seiko’s hybrid VK64 movement this is a watch that ticks all the boxes of an affordable retro-inspired chronograph.
The case hits the increasingly popular mid-sized sweet spot and at 39mm is neither too chunky nor too dainty. The double-domed acrylic crystal adds a little to the watch’s depth, while also enhancing the authentic look. There are two strap options offered – either a colourful leather rally strap or a retro-looking stainless steel mesh bracelet.
Of course, it’s the dial and the chronograph features that differentiate the Rallygraf from the other vintage and retro-style watches currently available. For those familiar with the racing chronograph look, this watch will be instantly recognisable. The dial features a dashboard-like bi-compax layout with a pair of sub-dials contrasting with the white of the main dial. The dial has a couple of nice touches including two chequered flags above the date window – an emblem that has been on Rallygraf line since the ’60s.
The attractive dial is paired with an eye-catching aluminium tachymetric bezel. This works in conjunction with the chronograph movement and enables the calculation of an average speed. The hybrid movement is supplied by YEMA’s former owner Seiko and runs the time functions from a quartz engine. However, the chronograph functions are mechanical, meaning the second hand has a smooth sweep. The best of both worlds.
The YEMA Rallygraf Meca-Quartz is an exciting recreation of a classic sports watch and offers iconic styling at a very affordable price. It’s due for release at the end of the month.
YEMA Rallygraf Meca-Quartz
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Seiko VK64
Bracelet: Stainless Steel Mesh or Leather Rally Strap
Crystal: Domed Mineral
Water Resistance: 100M
Price: USD $369