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Forum Home > Non-Seiko 7Axx Discussion Area (Re-branded mvmt's) > My newest incoming Yema Spationaute III .... and strap changes !

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Believe it or not, it's almost the end of January already and I hadn't yet added another single Seiko 7A38, per se, to my collection. :(

However, in December, I gave in to an impulse buy on Yahoo Japan Auctions and bought myself yet another Yema Spationaute III (the 43mm full size version). It's a very late production model, which I believe was manufactured in 1994. There were a few subtly different versions of the Spationaute III, which I intend to document in another blog article in due course. Here's the Yahoo Japan listing photos:

It was in nice, lightly used condition, but came on a non-original patent croco strap.

Due to the long Christmas holiday break, and ParcelFarce's seasonal inefficiency, although shipped from Japan on 22nd December by EMS, it didn't arrive until 6th January - after I'd paid their invoice for 'Priority' (joke) Customs clearance and the obligatory 20% VAT. :mad:

But I'd decided, long before it had arrived that the patent croco strap had to go. Despite being fitted with a Yema signed buckle, it clearly wasn't original to the watch. As it happened, I already had a Graf 22mm Navy Blue Shark strap in stock, ready and waiting.

It's not a bad match, and fairly close in appearance to an original Yema strap, but I thought I might try a couple of other alternatives.

January 28, 2012 at 6:44 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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It seems to have been 'de riguer' to wear a blue-faced Yema Spationaute III on a matching dark Blue calf or Navy Shark leather strap. That's certainly how most of the Spationaute III production appears to have left the Yema / C.G.H. Besançon factory. But apparently 'certain people in high places' have used other means of wrist attachment. Here's one on Yellow Kevlar, with Velcro fixing:

French astronaut Jean-Loup Chrétien followed what had become 'astral wristwear convention', the precedent having been set 20 years earlier by the Apollo crews, and for the 'Aragatz' Soyuz TM-7 mission wore his Yema Spationaute III on a nylon / velcro strap similar to this:

More ramblings on the original Yema Spationaute III worn on the Aragatz mission, to follow in this newly created thread:

January 28, 2012 at 8:26 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Although, as I said, it was a fairly reasonable match, I wasn't entirely satisfied with the Graf Navy Shark strap, so I started casting around for alternatives. As I've written before, I'm not averse to plagiarism, particularly if I think something looks 'right', and having seen Derek's 7A38-7080 on a 'GasGasBones' nylon / velcro strap, I did consider ordering something similar in RAF blue, from Carl. But NATO straps and their ilk really aren't my style. 

I was quite taken by the bright Yellow Kevlar / Velcro, but again, wanted something a little more conventional, but still in a 'high tech' material. I did find a couple of allegedly 'Kevlar' straps in Yellow on eBay, which I breifly considered, but as in a few instances before, when I've been struggling to find a strap solution, it was the good Frauleins of Orianenberg who provided the answer.

Are you ready for this ? Not sure that I was. :/ How about a bright yellow Gommatex strap with dark blue edging. :D

Here's a close-up shot that better shows the matching dark blue edging:

But it was the underside / lining of the strap, one of the reasons I chose to buy it, which proved to be the 'Pièce de Résistance'.

It is a French-made watch after all:

Vive La Différence - Vive La France ! 

January 28, 2012 at 9:27 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Should anyone else own a Spationaute III, and be feeling so bold, the strap is a Morellato 'Kajak' (available in both 20mm and 22mm):

Also available in French Bleu (but still with the 'Tricoleur' lining), naturellement. 8)

January 28, 2012 at 10:05 AM Flag Quote & Reply

6309 7049
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Beautiful watch.

I prefer the Yema Seaspider Diver's Watch, Seiko 4s15 movement.


February 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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I love the strap!  If you hadn't admitted otherwise, I'd have believed it was the original kit.  I think it's a nearly perfect fit.

February 2, 2012 at 3:53 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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It may appear a 'perfect fit' in those photos, but I'm still ambivalent about how it actually looks 'on the wrist', in the harsh light of day ....

June 9, 2012 at 9:39 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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With apologies for the belated bump to this thread, I am literally months behind in writing up this topic. 

I'll have to admit that yellow Morellato 'Kajak' strap was something of an experiment, and although it may have worked 'on paper' ....

as you can see from the above wrist shot, it takes a brave man to wear something like that outdoors in public - a braver man than I.

I think I knew all along what I really wanted to wear it on was a traditional navy blue shark strap, something close to the original Yema.

I wasn't 100% happy with the Graf 22mm navy shark strap I already had in stock, so in February I decided to find something better.

Probably the best quality 'French' hand-made shark straps you can buy are those manufactured by Fleurus:

Their heavily padded construction and stitching patterns fairly closely resemble the original fitment Yema straps. I'd used the 20mm versions of their shark strap on two of my 38mm 'reduced' Yema Spationaute III's, in navy blue and black. They weren't cheap. :(

I'd previously bought a couple from Philippe Boyer and winced at the 55 Euros apiece he charged.

So I went googling for a cheaper alternative supplier. Somehow I stumbled across Henrik de Keizer's website.

He stocked some Fleurus Shark straps:

but unfortunately not in the style or colour I wanted. So I phoned him (like most Dutch business people, he spoke perfect English), and asked if he'd order me a 22mm Navy shark strap from Fleurus. Not a problem - he said he'd charge the same lower price of 45 Euros.

I followed it up with an email, confirming exactly what I wanted: Style 13607 in 22mm Navy Blue (adding the french word Marine).

A couple of weeks later, I received a PayPal invoice and the strap was despatched. I was mildly annoyed when it arrived because it

was distinctly blue, rather than navy. Here's a photo I took of the strap, at the time, compared with that on my 38mm Spationaute III:

As you can see, the Fleurus advice note included with it clearly stated 'blue' too. There had obviously been a screw-up somewhere. :roll:

I phoned Henrik, and told him of the problem. He apologised, and I hastily mailed the strap back to Holland the same day, asking them to order me a replacement strap - in the correct colour that I had specified. You know that old saying: 'act in haste repent at leisure' ?

Well, as I walked back from the post office, I was thinking to myself that perhaps I'd been a little hasty. You see, I'd offered that blue strap up to the watch, and although it was 'wrong' in my book, it actually 'worked' quite well - being a good match for the dial colour.

So I emailed Henrik, explaining my change of heart, asking him to return the blue strap to me, besides ordering me a navy one as well.

A couple of weeks later I had two Fleurus 22mm shark straps. The Navy blue one was a LOT darker than the 20mm supplied before:

Unfortunately there was nothing that could be done, because in the event of any complaint, all strap manufacturers will automatically cite colour / grain variations in natural material - and this had been a 'special order' too. Note 'Marine' on the second advice note.

June 30, 2012 at 1:31 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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So, after all that, the two straps have ended up sitting in my strap drawer for a couple of months. :roll:

Part of the problem was that I didn't want to fit either of them until I could find some stainless steel tubing to sleeve their ends with.

The Yema Spationaute III's (both sizes) and the Yema N8 Flygraf use pin and crimped tube for strap fixing. I've written about it here:

Rather than keep pushing the original Yema tubes out of the straps, as I swapped them about, I wanted to make up a few more pairs.

Pins weren't an issue, but finding exactly the right 1.8mm O.D. x 1.4mm I.D. tubing to get a tight interference fit wasn't quite so easy.

Previously, I'd visited a couple of tattoo parlours, in town, scrounging a few piercing needles. They were in American needle gauge sizes, and either too loose or too tight. I even cadged some samples from a UK micro-bore stainless tubing manufacturer to no avail.

Eventually I found a simple cheap solution - I ordered a pack of 28mm x 1.8mm spring bars from Cousins, and cut the ends off them !

So today, after I'd ground 2 pairs of tubes to a perfect 21.90mm length, with my Dremel, I finally trial fitted both straps this afternoon:

June 30, 2012 at 3:28 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Now, whereas the dark navy strap is probably how Yema intended the Spationaute III to look, back in the day ....

I think I'm actually beginning to prefer the (much lighter) mid blue. I'm glad I kept it now. Here's a slight variation on today's wrist shot:

June 30, 2012 at 3:58 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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I've never really been a fan of the aged lume that you frequently see on 'vintage' watches - where it has turned yellow. :/

You'll sometimes see it on Yema Spationaute III's - particularly in the 'bullets' on the dial, and sometimes the bezel markers.

I presume it's down to natural ageing and / or exposure to sunlight - possibly from being left on display in a shop window for years.

Something else I'd noticed is that other Yema Spationate III's seem to be almost totally devoid of lume on their dial bullet markers.

Back in June 2010, I'd bought a NOS Yema Spationaute III on eBay Italy - relatively cheaply. This is one of the seller's photos:

Notice that the bezel lume has yellowed, yet the dial bullets are still white - indeed, in close-up, they look almost totally devoid of lume.

September 1, 2012 at 11:21 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Normally I'd avoid buying any Spationaute III with yellowed lume, particularly on the dial, because it's potentially expensive to restore.

Here's another example a NOS Yema Spationaute III with aged dial lume, which I remember seeing advertised on

Apparently it did sell for the 500 Euros asking price (back in May 2010).

Note that although the bezel and dial lume have both yellowed (almost evenly) with age, the hands lume is still almost pristine white.

Like I said - normally I'd avoid buying a Yema Spationaute III with yellowed lume, but then another NOS example came up on eBay in the States a couple of weeks ago, and it was much more reasonably priced with an opening bid of $250.

Here's a couple of the seller's rather small photos from the eBay listing:

As you can see, the dial lume is quite badly yellowed, almost matching the minute markers - yet the bezel's lume is still white.

The seller had actually written in his description: has a round recessed analog blue dial with high contrast yellow markers ....

Which of course, they're not really supposed to be. :roll:

But I bought it (or should I say a friend in the States bought it, on my behalf), with a particular purpose in mind. 

The mis-match of the bezel and dial lume colours on my first NOS Yema Spationaute III had always bugged me slightly:

It's not difficult to repaint them - I've done it before on my original 'beater / bitza' Spationaute III, using Humbrol enamel paint. 

Incidentally, that original 'bitza' Spationaute III of mine is fitted with a long-since obsolete German-made Colditz Pazifik shark strap.

But, as I wrote, I had a plan in mind. This morning, I swapped over the dial / movements between the two NOS Yema Spationaute III's.

Resulting, first of all, in this, which is the new incoming NOS Spationaute III, fitted with the dial / movement from my previous NOS one:

As Michael Barrymore would say - Aw-Wight ? 

September 1, 2012 at 11:35 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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I then turned my attention to re-assembling the other one, which would comprise the case and bezel and dial with yellowed lume.

There were at least 3 different factory variations of dial (printing and hands) and strap used during the Yema Spationaute III's 5 year production span. Of course, these two were both early production versions, with the full YEMA PARIS QUARTZ 100M dial and both still fitted with their original Yema plain dark navy blue ribbed leather straps (as opposed to shark). So apart from the yellowed lume, they would have been almost identical. To make them a bit different, my original plan had been to fit the 'yellowed' watch with the Fleurus dark navy blue shark strap, which was still lying around unused. I did offer it up to the watch head, but then decided not to fit it. 

Instead, I remembered my earlier experiment with the yellow Morellato Kajak strap .... and decided to give it another try. 

'Old Yeller' is back ....

Not the dog, nor the movie ....

Nor the car ....

.... but the watch. 

Better match than before, with rather more yellow on the watch head ?

It may appear a 'perfect fit' in those photos, but I'm still ambivalent about how it actually looks 'on the wrist', in the harsh light of day ....

September 1, 2012 at 12:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Here's another N.O.S. Yema Spationaute III which arrived last week, courtesy of my friendly 'shipping agent' in the States. :)

This example is on the original Yema navy shark strap, my first of such - and it's my intention to keep it that way .... almost 'stock'.

However, I've decided to give it a very minor mod and fitted the alternate 'wire loop' style Yema buckle to it.  N.O.S., naturellement. 8)

October 9, 2012 at 9:23 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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At the risk of repeating myself ....

This week I've been doing some analyses of the incoming google searches I see on the forum's control panel statistics package.

I try to ensure that all visitors to the site find the exact answers they're looking for - so we become the ultimate point of reference.

Which is why you'll sometimes see me apparently unnecessarily repeating keywords and particularly model numbers - it's intentional.

So, when I spotted this French visitor earlier this week, I had to have a self-satisfied little smile to myself. Ironic he came here, eh ? ;)

May 4, 2013 at 8:19 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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It also reminded me that I needed to add a little footnote to this thread. ;)

Whereas I'm quite happy with the variety of non-original straps that I've sourced and fitted to my various Yema Spationaute III's ....

I never tire of experimenting with different strap combinations. That said; I don't always get it quite right first (nor last) time, either:


I could have added this post onto that thread, but as it's relevant to the Yema Spationaute III, I thought it best mentioned here.

As you'll already probably be aware, where practicable, I sometimes like to try matching straps to watch dial colours. 

Last month, I had to order something else from watchbandcenter and my inquisitive nature got the better of me ....

'Lorica' is described as a 'high tech' material and this strap was available in 22mm; dark blue with yellow stitching:

Watch strap "Sail" 22mm dark blue Lorica matt by BROS (width of buckle 20 mm)

So I tacked one onto my order, to see if it might 'work' on a Spationaute III. It most certainly didn't ! 

Not only was the dark blue even more purpley than it appeared in the above photo, the texture looked like poor imitation leather ....

But the example I was sent was also badly finished, with the edges not properly glued down in a couple of places. Needless to say,

after briefly offering it up (but not trial fitting it between the lugs), it was on it's way back to the Frauleins of Oranienburg for credit !

May 4, 2013 at 8:25 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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If you're looking for a similar appearing replacement (for an original Yema shark strap), there are plenty of online retailers offering Navy or Dark Blue shark straps - of varying prices and degrees of quality. Although expensive, I'd recommend the French Fleurus.

If you fancy trying an alternative matching blue with yellow stitching strap, here's a couple I've come across possibly worth considering:

From US strap manufacturer Brady Straps - not actually 'Kevlar', but 'sailcloth' pattern embossed leather @ $34.95:

Then there's this comparatively cheap offering (which appears to be very popular, from the 477 sold) on eBay / Watchgecko @ £9.95:

Genuine Leather Watch Strap in Black/Red or Blue/Yellow - Grand Prix Design

Strap choice is very much a personal taste. One thing I dislike are straps which taper excessively. Both these are O.K. in that respect.

However, I also dislike slotted holes and square buckle tangs - preferring normal small punched round holes. So not for me, I'm afraid.

May 4, 2013 at 10:10 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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A somewhat belated postscript to this thread. Way back in June 2012, I'd purchased a Navy 22mm Fleurus shark strap. I'd originally intended to use it on the Yema Spationaute III that started off this thread, which I'd bought on Yahoo Japan back in December 2011.

The strap supplied was much darker than I'd expected and as you can see from the foregoing posts I fitted the mid-blue one instead.

That very dark navy Fleurus strap has lain neglected, unused (but certainly not forgotten) in my strap drawer ever since. :/

At the weekend I almost finished restoring another 'Mission Flags' dialed Yema Spationaute III. All it really needed was a strap.

Typical Bank Holiday weather on Sunday - thunderstorms around midday even. :roll:

I managed to grab a quick photo during a brief period of sunshine. Please excuse the little bug who decided to crawl into shot. :P

April 21, 2014 at 10:28 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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I'm not sure why, but this strap seems to work so much better with this dial. 

Just a couple of words of warning to anybody who may be considering buying one of these Fleurus straps ....

Remember that Shark leather is a natural material and that dye colour and grain can vary considerably (as I learned).

Secondly, although they look the part, these straps are nothing like as soft or comfortable as the original Yema straps.

Their rubber internal padding / reinforcement is nowhere near as flexible and will take some considerable time to break in.

April 21, 2014 at 10:41 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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An email from a forum member earlier this morning, asking a fairly basic question about straps for Yema Spationaute III's, reminded me I was delinquent in adding another update to this thread. One style of strap I hadn't mentioned previously was the 'Double Jonc' style favoured by many French owners. If you scroll throug the Yema N7s and N8s spotted on eBay, LeBonCoin and thread you'll find a number of images saved from eBay and LeBonCoin listings showing this style of strap, with their distinctive double ribs. Indeed, I've purchased a couple of Spationaute III's (both 43mm and 38mm 'reduced') which came with them fitted, but they were too worn out and dirty to ever consider re-using.

I've always assumed that the original Yema straps were supplied by Fleurus. Apart from being a French watch strap manufacturer, their current designs and construction are similar to the originals. They also produce a 'double jonc' version of their shark straps. But I try to keep an open mind about these things - and remembering what I've seen over the years, I wouldn't mind betting that Yema used another major French watch strap manufacturer - ZRC ( Zuccolo, Rochet et Cie) as a second source. The reason I say that is that certainly the earlier 'Fleurus' style straps carry only Yema branding, whereas straps which I believe were manufactured for them by ZRC have no markings - neither on the underside nor on their buckles. This shrivelled up thing in came fitted to my very first Yema Spationaute III - a 'parts watch' (nearly 5 years ago). I kept it for a good reason: future reference; the seller told me it was the original strap. Buckle is a clearly a ZRC, but without their logo.

But I digress.

Getting back to 'Double Jonc' style straps. I'd used them myself on other Yema N8's before, but never tried one on a Spationaute III.

At the risk of repeating myself (again) ....

As I've written before, I'm not averse to plagiarism, particularly if I think something looks 'right' .... (even if it's 'technically' wrong). 

Back in October last year (on page 6 of the above linked thread), I'd written about a Spationaute III listed on eBay by a UK seller.

It was fitted with a dark blue ZRC 'double jonc' leather strap. Here's a partial copy and paste of my post dated October 15, 2013:

Although it's fitted with the correct style 'wire loop' Yema branded buckle, the dark blue 'double jonc' strap isn't original to the watch.

I had previously seen this same strap retro-fitted by French Yema Spationaute III owners. So I asked the seller a question. He replied:

The strap is a quality leather 22mm ZRC French strap. Seems to do the watch justice. £20 retail. Hope this helps. (He stocks ZRC straps.)

In fact there's more information about these ZRC straps in my two subsequent posts, but I'm not going to bother copying them over. :P

To cut what is becoming a long story short, I'd recently refurbished yet another Yema Spationaute III (apart from polishing an annoying little scratch on the crystal, which can wait till I'm in the right frame of mind). I needed a strap for it. I still have that Graf 22mm navy blue shark strap (mentioned in my first post) in my spare strap drawer, but as I wan't that enamoured with it first time around, I wanted to try something different. My first thought was the blue version of that Morellato 'Kajak' gommatex strap (with the lovely tricoleur lining). Knowing how bright the yellow one was, I googled (more) images of it first, before ordering one - and bottled out. Then I was recently reminded by Jean-Christophe (a.k.a. 'Jecko' of FAM) listing his Spationaute III fitted with one of the same ZRC straps on LeBonCoin.

'Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery' and all that, I decided to try one for myself. However - a word of warning.

Just as I'd discovered earlier, with Fleurus, there appears to be some confusion between ZRC's Blue and Navy Blue ! :roll:

First there's the obvious transposition error (illustrations '6' and '12') on the ZRC website's current catalogue .pdf ....

Compounded by a part number error on Antique Watch Co.'s website:

So before I ordered a 'dark blue' ZRC leather strap from AWC, I got them to email me a photo of what I was purchasing first. 8)

As AWC had done with the Yema Spationaute III they sold on eBay in October last year, I fitted an original Yema wire loop buckle:

Hence this morning's WRUW thread wrist shot:

November 1, 2014 at 6:50 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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