YEMA is an independent French watchmaker located in Morteau, the cradle of French watchmaking. YEMA is managed by a third-generation family of watchmakers, the Bôle family, who are surrounded by a team with more than 40 years of experience in watchmaking. Design, prototyping and assembling are proudly and precisely carried out by highly experienced traditional French watchmakers within our Morteau workshops. Since its inception in 1948, several recognized entrepreneurs contributed to YEMA’s heritage:

1948 - 1982 | Henry-Louis Belmont
1982 - 1986 | Matra / Richard Mille
1986 - 2004 | Hattori-Seiko Co. Ltd.
2009 - to date | Ambre France


1948 - 1982


1948 - Henry-Louis Belmont establishes YEMA

YEMA was founded in 1948 by Henry-Louis Belmont, a traditional watchmaker who graduated top of his class in 1931 from the National Watchmaking School of Besançon. Henry-Louis Belmont played an important role in the recent history of French watchmaking as a pioneer of automation in watch manufacturing.

He specialised in the design and manufacturing of ultra-capable tool watches packed with features to suit extreme outdoor activities from diving and car racing to military expeditions, often associated with extraordinary men capable of achieving feats in extreme conditions. The motto “Time of Heroes” would become the official slogan of YEMA a few years later.


1950 - Recognized leader of waterproof tool watches

The first YEMA collections were created at the start of the 1950s and very quickly Henry-Louis Belmont set out to position the brand at the forefront of watchmaking innovation: In 1951 he decided to equip most YEMA watches with one of the very first automatic movements, the LORSA 237 B, which he later renamed YEMA 231 A. In 1953, YEMA was one of the first brands able to manufacture dive watches that withstood depths up to 100 meters, a true revolution in the world of watchmaking at that time. In 1954, YEMA’s production reaches 130,000 watches.


1960’s - Leading French watch exporter

In 1962 YEMA is rebranded YEMA INTERNATIONAL and from 1965 to 1968 the brand becomes the leading French watch exporter by selling 400,000 watches yearly to more than 55 countries.


1966 - First YEMA Yachtingraf

In 1966 YEMA releases the first Yachtingraf model, a chronograph equipped with a Swiss ETA Valjoux caliber and an innovative countdown timer for regatta starts, for which a patent is filed.

In 1968, YEMA becomes Official Supplier to the French Sailing Team and hands over a Yachtingraf model to Eric Tabarly, a former French Navy officer and France’s most renowned yachtsman to date.


1967 - YEMA Superman, the birth of a myth

In 1967 YEMA files a patent for an in-house designed bezel-lock mechanism for the iconic YEMA Superman model. This was one of the very first locking dive bezels, which provided an extra safety, along the crown guards shape and the screw-in crown mechanism, by preventing the rotating bezel from moving accidentally during scuba diving. Soon after, the Superman model becomes the first production dive watch in France waterproof to a depth of 990 feet / 300 meters, making of this model the ultimate French dive watch in history.


1969 - Mario Andretti Wins the 1969 Indianapolis 500

Mario Andretti, considered by many to be the greatest racing driver in history, wore a YEMA Rallye during his historic victory at Indianapolis in 1969. The very first Rallygraf was born a few years earlier, in 1967.

“I love wristwatches almost as much as I love racing. I bought the Rallye in the 1960s because I thought it was really cool. At the time, it was state-of-the-art and right on the cutting edge of modern. I got many compliments on it so I wore it often. I actually wore it daily for the entire month of May 1969 in preparation for the Indianapolis 500 – for practice, qualifying and during the race itself. It certainly became sentimental after I won that race, just like the helmet I wore that day and the fire suit. And the race car that carried me across the finish line ended up in the Smithsonian. All of these things became part of a day that changed my life.”


1970’s - First military-issued YEMA tool watches

The first Flygraf aviation chronograph was released in 1970, it was presented at the Micronora trade fair where it received several awards, notably for its multiple rules bezel made in 2 distinct parts.

Same year, the YEMA Superman is chosen by the French Air Force to equip its aviation Search and Rescue (SAR) swimmers, an elite unit specialized in air-sea rescue operations in hostile environments. Reputedly indestructible, the Superman model was specifically designed for the French military as the ultimate tool watch, thanks to its durability, legibility, and dependable service in virtually any environment, along its anti-corrosion, water resistance and underwater visibility characteristics, which made this the perfect military watch for maritime environments and diving.


1982 - 1986


1982 - First Western European watch sent into espace

The advent of quartz watches caused an upheaval in the watchmaking industry and forced many brands to restructure to better resist global competition. In the early 1980s YEMA joins Matra Horlogerie, a French public-private industrial conglomerate.

Henry-John Belmont succeeds his father as CEO and the international development is entrusted to a promising young man, a future big name in world watchmaking, Richard Mille.

On June 24, 1982 for the first time a French astronaut, Jean-Loup Chrétien, sets off from the Baikonur base for a 10-day journey into space. On his wrist, he wears the very first Western European watch sent into space, the YEMA Spationaute I. Further iterations of this historic YEMA model are released in order to accompany successive space missions organized by the French space agency CNES.

On June 17, 1985, the Discovery shuttle took off with Patrick Baudry and his YEMA Spationaute II on board for the STS-51G mission (first Franco-American orbital flight).


1986 - YEMA and Richard Mille aim for the North Pole

In 1986, Richard Mille contributes to design a titanium tool watch capable of resisting extremely cold polar air and severe winter weather, equipped with a compass bearing bezel insensitive to strong magnetic fields. The watch, called YEMA North Pole, accompanied Doctor and explorer Jean-Louis Étienne on his 800 km solo journey across the North Pole in 1986.

A few months later and still under the leadership of Richard Mille, the YEMA Odyssey model equipped Nicolas Hulot and Hubert de Chevigny through a new North Pole expedition, this time in an ultralight aircraft.


1986 - 2004


1986 - The Hattori-Seiko era

On December 10, 1986, Hattori-Seiko Co Ltd becomes majority owner of YEMA brand by purchasing Matra Horlogerie shares. This period under Japanese management will last until 2004, through which the design language of some iconic YEMA models get some touches of inspiration from certain Seiko codes, like the Superman II model.

YEMA's space exploration carries on with the release of the Spationaute III model powered by the renowned Seiko 7A38 caliber. On November 26, 1988 as part of the Franco-Russian Aragatz space mission, the astronaut Jean-Loup Chrétien joins the MIR orbital station with this space tool watch on his wrist.

In 2001, Kaomi Matsumoto president of YEMA, still owned by Seiko, appoints Louis-Éric Beckensteiner as Managing Director before he completely took over the reins in 2004. To commemorate YEMA’s 60th anniversary in 2008, Beckensteiner releases the Master Elements model, a chronograph equipped with an ETA Valjoux 7750 caliber limited to 60 time pieces. A true watchmaking UFO, this tool watch waterproof to 300 meters is equipped with no less than 4 bezels, an aerial navigation instrument and a speed calculation instrument.


2009 - to date


2009 - Independent watchmaker Ambre France takes over

Ambre France, a French family-owned watchmaking group based in Morteau founded in 1965 by René Four and Marcelle Bôle, takes over YEMA in 2009 with the ambition of further developing the brand with the release of an in-house caliber, the MBP1000, which required 4 years of development and € 3 million investment. Designed and assembled in France, the MBP1000 was a standard grade caliber that combined manufacturing simplicity and efficiency offering great precision and reliability at a competitive price point. Over the years, more than 250,000 MBP1000 movements were produced.


2020 - YEMA official partner of French armed forces

In 2020, the French Air Force and the French Navy respectively nominate YEMA as Official Partner to develop military tool watches built in collaboration and according to strict military requirements, available to both the military personnel and the general public.


2021 - Second generation In-house Calibers

In 2020, Ambre decides to improve its in-house caliber by bringing in the expertise of renowned watchmakers Olivier Mory and Patrick Augereau, who team up with YEMA’s Master Watchmaker Jean-Paul Boillot. Among other improvements, the racket system and the inverters are optimized for better performance, and the new in-house calibers are rebranded YEMA2000 (three hands) and YEMA3000 (GMT).


2022 - Switch to local manufacturing

2022 is the symbol of a pivotal and determining year in YEMA’s rebranding strategy. The aim is to establish a sustainable and traditional French watchmaking Manufacture, while ensuring its independence. The crucial objective is to allow a better control of all manufacturing aspects to secure higher quality time pieces, by means of internalizing production and whenever not possible, by privileging local (French and Swiss) partners.

During the next couple of years YEMA makes significant investments aiming at internalizing a good part of its production and constantly improving the quality of its manufacturing processes. YEMA’s workshops and production lines are expanded and modernized by implementing the latest watchmaking equipment. In addition, the Jura French-Swiss Arc being increasingly integrated, YEMA now works with new local partners, highly recognized manufacturers specialised in fine watchmaking, all of them located within a 72km radius of Morteau, enabling a more responsible and better quality production.


2023 - YEMA Manufacture

YEMA leverages from the recent reinternalization of manufacturing by introducing a new breed of in-house calibers, featuring increased precision and performance. These new Manufacture calibers are equipped with Swiss regulating organs while the mainplates and bridges are manufactured in-house by YEMA. All caliber components are therefore manufactured within a radius of 72km of Morteau and assembled in YEMA’s Morteau workshops. The new movements are proudly named “Calibre Manufacture Morteau” (CMM) to reflect their local origin and production.

In 2023, YEMA’s first Manufacture caliber is released: The CMM.20 caliber is the first French micro-rotor movement in history. End 2023, YEMA releases the CMM.30, a tourbillon caliber (designed by Olivier Mory) featuring a tide complication, and in 2024 YEMA announces the CMM.10, a 3-hand caliber designed from scratch featuring chronometric precision.