Hands-on With Armand Nicolet

By Jonathan Kopp

During Baselworld Fair, which took place last March, we had the pleasure to visit the Swiss watch brand Armand Nicolet.

I must admit that before our appointment I was preoccupied by two contrasting emotions.

On the one hand, excited because this is a very old brand and that uses historical movements from their own stock. And on the other hand, puzzled because despite its history the brand isn’t really known all that much and even less recognized as a big manufacture.

It’s true that many old brands that have a great history don’t have the visibility and media coverage that they deserve. That’s precisely why journalists and bloggers have to discover these brands themselves and believe me, we are often surprised by the quality of their pieces.

Pic 1 (5)

I arrived in front of their large stand that has a beautiful front and I was well received by the team who accompanied me in a small office to present me their collection. I don’t know where to start because the sheer numbers of watches there was impressive. In short, there is a “Contemporary” part and an “OHM” part in the collection and probably something like 50 watches in the total. OHM meaning “Original Historical Movement”. Note that as the guardians of a long-established tradition inherited from their forefathers, today’s master-watchmakers of Armand Nicolet have patiently restored and reassembled these historical movements by hand, while keeping a profound respect for the skills of their predecessors.

Pic 2 - LL9

Another great point is that this year at Baselworld the brand launched its first ladies collection that features one of these vintage movements.

This timepiece is the LL9 and it’s quite interesting. Even if it’s impossible to write about all the range because it’s so huge. Indeed, you can expect no less than 28 different versions.

For this women’s collection Armand Nicolet made a great work of design. Although the case is classic, you’ll see in the model in pics (9653D-AN-P953BC8) that Armand Nicolet added 54 diamonds on the bezel and also 5 brilliant cut diamonds on the dial. Those diamonds fit perfectly with the well decorated dial. Other positives are the open heart between 5 and 7 O’clock and also the hands that have a really seductive design. To protect this dial Armand Nicolet added a anti-reflective sapphire crystal. The movement in this timepiece is the Calibre AN704A which has been obtained from the FHF-905 produced in 1960 by the Swiss manufacture. You can see it through the back that is open and, at the front. The whole piece is enclosed in a stainless steel case that measures 34mm in diameter and 11mm in thickness.

Pic 3 -1

We continue our journey through time, to the heart of the Armand Nicolet workshops, where the original movements beating at the heart of the O.H.M collection sprang to life with the L14 which is my personal favourite from their collection. I already presented this piece in another article, but here is the blue version which is really attractive. This piece has been created with the Caliber AN 0711C, which has been obtained from the UT 600 produced in 1958 and modified in 2014 by the watchmakers of the brand. Interesting thing is the skeletonized dial that gives you a full view on the movement and also the small second at 6 O’clock. Indeed by putting the small seconds at this place we can have a great view of the beautiful decorations of the front. To give a contemporary look to the piece, the dial is Guilloché decorated with applied indexes and diamonds cut “dots”.

The case is in 316L stainless steel and personally I like the colour contrast between this box and the blue touch. But the most appealing thing is the size of the watch that has been crafted to as diameter of 43mm in diameter and 10mm in thickness which makes it very nice when worn.

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