Watch blog Worn & Wound has released its first watch collaboration with French brand Yema, bringing modern touches to its quirky 1960s dive watch, the Superman.

While many versions of the Superman have been produced in the years since its release in 1963, the Yema x Worn & Wound Superman Maxi Dial Limited Edition focuses on Maxi Dial versions, so called because of the size of the dial markers and the amount of luminous material used to create a watch that was still legible underwater.

The team at Worn & Wound, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, added a subtle two-tone black and grey color scheme to the dial and pulling all of the elements together using a set of crosshairs. They also removed the date window in favour of dial symmetry, clearly marking themselves out as members of Team #nodate.

It’s perfectly proportioned too, using a 39mm brushed stainless steel case and glass box sapphire crystal and as you might expect from a credible dive watch, it is also water resistant to 300m. Inside is a YEMA2000, 4Hz automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve and hacking seconds.

But the defining characteristic of the Superman has always been the bracket around the crown that serves to lock the bezel in place, which is thought to be the first time such a system was used in watchmaking.

Dive watch bezels of the era rotated in both directions, often in a smooth motion with no click stops to prevent accidental movement which, when they were being used to time diving decompression stops, could be a mistake you only made once. Rolex used a friction-fit system where the bezel needed to be depressed to rotate and was then held in place when released, but this too was less than ideal and eventually replaced by the click stops that are standard practice today.

Yema’s early, innovative solution was to lock the bezel in place using a bracket which itself was held in place over the stem tube when the winding stem and crown were fitted. The action of screwing down the crown clamps the bracket in place which locks itself in place around the notches in the bezel.

A neat solution perhaps, but the crown is usually the weak link in any watch case. Needing to unscrew the crown to move the bezel meant that the system couldn’t be used underwater otherwise the case would flood with water. Even performing the action whilst wet or even near water isn’t the greatest idea if you’re keen on keeping moisture out of a case, so you can see why the system was quickly outmoded. Nevertheless the Superman system remains one of those interesting footnotes in the development of watches that collectors latch onto.

Just 300 pieces of the Yema x Worn & Wound Superman Maxi Dial Limited Edition are being made and are available via the Windup Watch Shop, priced $990 USD.

Elsewhere in watches, Rado calls upon industrial designer Tej Chauhan to explore the near future.

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