Like their recent LL9 Collection, the 2011 Armand Nicolet L10 (ref. 9670A-AG-P670NR1) is powered by a modified historic movement that was manufactured 50 years ago by an almost forgotten Swiss-based maker of blank movements Fabrique d’Horlogerie de Fontainemelon.
The movement in question is the FHF 72 from 1960s. Built on 17 rubies and comprising 98 parts, this is a relatively slow-beating movement with its balance wheel making 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour.
With the L10 being a collection of relatively inexpensive timekeepers, it would be unwise to expect the NOS caliber to feature lavish decor (although, I think, a pattern of nice diagonal Geneva stripes wouldn’t hurt their bottom line that much) and, well, there isn’t: the FHF 72 features nothing more impressive than “Surface Vagues” radial brushing and the inevitable circular-graining finish on the base-plate, gold-plated inscriptions (including serial number, see photo below,) and polished screw-heads. However, the carefully engraved bezel on the timekeeper’s back serves as a good “frame” for the deliberately simple mechanism, so, from the point of view of pure aesthetics, I have no complaints here.
Also, for those more interested in the mechanics, I must note that, before installation, the hand-wound movement was mildly upgraded to the brand’s higher standards using a number of modern components including an Incabloc shock absorber and renamed as caliber AN710A.
The movement is installed in a rather compact stainless steel case 40 mm in diameter and only 8 millimeters in height (by the way, there will also be a two-toned version of the same dimensions with its winding crown and bezel made of 18-karat rose gold.) While some purists frown at vintage-styled (or, rather, vintage-inspired) dress watches that are larger than the industry’s “gold standard” of 38-39 millimeters, I don’t see a problem here: after all, with all those supersized timekeepers flooding the market, even a 40mm piece suddenly looks deliciously compact.
The styling looks very much like that of the 2011 Girard-Perregaux 1966 Collection, mainly thanks to the baton-shaped applied hour markers and leaf-shaped hour and minute hands. Giving the Swiss-based brand the benefit of the doubt, I would like to think that this is not an intentional rip off, but just a coincidence: after all, there are not so many possible combinations of hands/indices and hands/numerals that one can use while designing a vintage-styled wristwatch without constantly running into some other reputable manufacturer’s legacy.
According to the company, the L10 will be available in a choice of four dials (silver (pictured above,) blue, black and grey) and four leather straps: brown, black, blue or grey alligator leather with 316L stainless steel buckle.
Photos: Armand Nicolet
Armand Nicolet L10 (ref. 9670A-AG-P670NR1) specification
Price: €3800 (MSRP)
Movement: Hand-wound, Caliber AN710A (base FHF 72,) 17 jewels, 21,600 vph, Swiss Made
Movement decoration: Perlage, bridges are decorated with Surface Vagues and gold engravings
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Power reserve: 34 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Bezel: Stainless steel / Rose gold
Size: 40.00 mm
Case height: 8.00 mm
Dial: Silvered, Blue, Black, Grey
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black, blue, grey or brown alligator leather strap with steel buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective on both sides