Bezels are incredibly useful devices. Twist the ring until the arrow’s on the current or desired end time and you’re good to go (for events lasting an hour or less). Aesthetically, the big ass bezels dominating today’s “sport” watches scream DIVE! DIVE! DIVE! The French-made Yema Navygraf shows us how an everyday dive watch should be done. Was done? That too . . .
The Navygraf Heritage is a redo of the three-hand Yema diver released in the ’70s – before Sylvester Stallone’s Panerai normalized watch faces that can be read from outer space. Like its predecessor, the Yema Naygraf Heritage clocks in at a relatively demure, once-standard 39mm. It’s an ideal size for a multipurpose watch – a timepiece suitable for both faffing about and dressing to impress.
The Navygraf’s narrow, unidirectional, coin-edged bezel helps keep the dive watch thing on the DL. At arm’s length, the bezel’s outer markers and numerals are practically invisible – restricting utility to “place the arrow at the desired end time” protocol.
The Navygraf’s “vintage orange” exclamation mark indices stake its claim to the sub-$1k automatic dive watch market. Set against a black face, accompanied by yellow-rimmed hour and minute hands and a needle-like second hand, the ! design maximizes decipherability. In other words, the time pops like Orville Redenbacher’s finest.
The orange indices sheltering under the Navygraf’s ice rink-flat anti-reflective sapphire crystal aren’t the ideal shade for underwater adventure. (Orange you glad we reviewed the Seiko Dive Watch?) But again, they offer unassailable at-a-glance legibility. And thanks to Super-LumiNova C5’s greenish yellow glow, the Navygraf is a horological Lite Brite in the dark (click on the link or ask grandpa).
Yema fashions the Navygraf’s “brushed effect” case from corrosion-resistant 316L steel. The movement sits on top of the case like a fat cheesecake on a small platter – focusing attention on the Yema’s fabulous face. The small lugs are part and parcel of the Navygraf’s slim H-link bracelet, that narrows as it flows down to the clasp.
The Navygraf’s clasp incorporates a diver’s extension for fast adjustment (as if). Unfortunately, the folding buckle’s mechanism – the bits that adjust and lockdown the bracelet – are made of stamped steel.
Whereas the Navygraf’s 316L bracelet is silky smooth and substantial, the clasp’s hardware is sharp-edged and cheap. Setting aside durability issues, this is the wearer’s primary ergonomic interface (the part you touch the most). As such, yuck.
I expect more from a French watchmaker manufacturing their own movement. Designed and developed at their Morteau workshops, the most excellent caliber MBP1000 beats at 28,800 A/h (480 times per minute). The resulting second hand sweep is a silken delight. Better yet, the Gallic movement’s accurate to +/- 12 seconds per day.
An in-house mechanical movement is a badge of honor amongst watch collectors – horophiles who turn up their noses at watches that repackage (and modify) off-the-shelf Swiss and Japanese movements. The MBP1000 reflect’s Yema’s independence – a literal piece of French horological heritage. On the downside, if the movement goes wrong, you’re best off shipping the timepiece home to France.
Like any sturdy, inexpensive dive watch, the Navygraf’s engine is protected from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune by a solid steel caseback. Adorned with with Yema’s flowery family crest, the snap on cover lets you know which of 500 Heritage examples has joined your collection. At $749, adding the Navygraf to your temporal arsenal is no-brainer. Think of it this way . . .
Any scuba diver worth his salt [water] wears a digital dive computer. Dive watches — all dive watches – are nothing more than a style statement.
If you want a watch that tells the world that you’re the kinda guy who relishes undersea adventure, the Yema Navygraf ain’t it. If you want a hardy, subtle, stylish, legible, glow-in-the-dark timepiece from a storied independent maker for under a grand in the hand, the Navygraf Heritage is your Huckleberry.
Yema Navygraf Heritage
$749 – sold direct by the manufacturer
Click here to buy (no commission paid)
Dial: Matte black with vintage orange markers
Case: Brushed 316L stainless steel
Bezel: Scratch-resistant sapphire, unidirectional with black insert graduated in 120 divisions, white plating under sapphire ring
Crown: Screw-down crown, vintage Y Yema logo engraved
Crystal: Sapphire crystal with anti-reflection treatment
Lume: Super LumiNova C5
Band: Reissue of 1970 “Oyster” vintage band, light-weight 360L stainless steel with brushed effect
Clasp: Diver extension folding clasp with secure-lock and Yema vintage logo
Water Resistance: 30 BAR / 990 Feet / 300m
Movement: Automatic, in-house caliber MBP1000, self-winding with ball bearings rotor, 31 jewels, 28,800 A/h
Power reserve: 45 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
RATINGS (out of five stars)
Design * * * * *
The Yema Navygraf Heritage’s design has stood the test of time. The 39mm retro diver does double duty as a waterproof everyday beater and a funky dress watch.
Legibility * * * * *
With “vintage orange” exclamation point indices and yellow hands set in a black face, the Navygraf is time-at-a-glance perfection. Stunning luminosity.
Tactility * * * *
At 4.6 ounces, the Navygraf has reassuring heft. The brushed 316L steel looks and feels class. The movement moves like Jagger. The cheap stamped hardware securing the clasp is a major letdown.
Comfort * * * * *
The Navygraf sits on my 7″ wrist like it was born there.
Customer Service * * * * *
Excellent on-line chat and prompt delivery.
Overall * * * *
A hardy retro-styled automatic dive watch from a storied French watchmaker – complete with an in-house movement. The Navygraf looks good, wears well, keeps excellent time and goes easy on the wallet. Only the nasty clasp denies it five-star status.