Like the recent Armand Nicolet LL9 ladies watch, the new 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 ebauche maker 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 perlage 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 like a very 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-carat 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 watch looks deliciously compact.
The styling of the watch looks very much alike the new 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 watch 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) hand-wound watch specification
Price: €3800 (MSRP)
Movement: Manual (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 material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Stainless steel / Rose gold
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 40.00 mm
Lug width: No data
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
Case back: Sapphire