The Best Leather Goods When You Least Expect It: anOrdain
Some brands focus on providing excellent leather goods, whereas, sadly, some other brands seem to treat them as an afterthought. It was, then, somewhat refreshing when I first came to see and learn more about the Scottish brand, anOrdain’s approach to what I think are some of the best leather goods around at this price point.
I don’t know about you, but I have found that my love of watches has taken me down a few different creative rabbit holes. Over the years, I have enjoyed a few different yet associated crafts related to watches, but the most recent one is leatherwork. I have developed a love for this natural material, and as such, I find myself paying more and more attention to leather goods from brands like anOrdain.
Leather is not as simple as it seems
Now, I’m no expert saddler or artisan leatherworker, but I have done a couple of things to understand my way around the essential tools, methods, and terminology. I like to think I can distinguish between good leather and good artistry versus the cheap trashy stuff. I recently attended a day-long leather workshop in North Manchester where I made a passport holder using an excellent Italian veg-tanned leather. From starting with the template, I expected to whizz through the process in just an hour or two, but I quickly learned that a lot of time and effort goes into making even the smallest of leather goods. Every step of the process is a labor of love and demands your full attention.
…a genuinely great artisan makes their craft look easy, right?
It took me about 5 hours to fully make and complete the passport holder. To the eye, it looks pretty spot-on, and I’m incredibly proud of the result. However, when you look closely, you can see a few minor imperfections: I have an extra stitch on the inside of one edge because the cutting accuracy was off by about half a millimeter, but that meant I required an extra stitch to compensate. It’s little details like this that I know I did not and could not appreciate before turning my hand to the craft. After all, a genuinely great artisan makes their craft look easy, right?
Luxury leather goods
When we buy luxury products, we do, of course, expect a luxury item in exchange for our hard-earned cash. That said, it’s clear that many brands have different ideas about the fundamentals of a luxury experience. I’m sure that individually we all have our interpretations too, and it would be wrong of me to suggest that one opinion is more valid than the other. So, for that reason, I will talk purely from my own point of view.
I don’t need a huge box to mechanically open and present me with the watch on a cushion made of unicorn hairs.
To me, luxury does not have to be explicitly “showy”. By that, I mean that when I buy a watch, I’m not looking for a “blow-your-mind” type of unboxing experience. I don’t need a huge box to mechanically open and present me with the watch on a cushion made of unicorn hairs. Sure, it’d be cool, but I don’t really want or need it. I mean, I bought the watch to put on my wrist, so once that box has presented me with the watch, it kind of becomes obsolete, no? These big, fancy boxes get put into cupboards, never to be seen or used again. It’s not sustainable, and it’s a huge and unnecessary cost, both financially and to the environment. For that reason, I am more impressed when a brand packages its watches thoughtfully — in some kind of travel case that I can use again and again.
AnOrdain’s leather travel cases are superb
Now, many brands are indeed starting to adopt this methodology. But, not all such travel cases are created equally. As is the way of the world, you get what you pay for. So, when I first saw anOrdain’s travel cases, I was suitably impressed. They are solid, zip-up cases for your watch, thus providing more protection than a standard fold-up roll, and they also hold two watches to boot. So far, so good, right? Sure, but where these cases really ticked the right boxes was the quality of the construction materials.
I absolutely love this!
AnOrdain uses a full-grain, vegetable-tanned leather which it sources from a tannery near Florence, Italy. As it is an entirely natural product, some markings and variations may occur on the surface of the leather. I must say, I absolutely love this! It really highlights that this is a natural skin; no chemical treatments or refinishing to remove these blemishes. Then, on the inside, anOrdain treats us to a beautiful velvety-smooth suede lining. Suede is a beautiful material and one of my favorite tactile textures. It’s also the perfect choice to protect your watches from scratches or scuffs.
Handmade with love
Now I need to reiterate the premium quality of these cases. Not just due to the high-end leather/suede anOrdain used to make them. The build quality is also a key contributing factor for my love of these cases. Each case is lovingly made by hand (the stitching is done using a machine, of course), and the attention to detail is evident. I implore you to take a closer look at this case should you ever get the chance. Every watch that anOrdain sells come with one of these cases. Seeing as the brand also sells these separately for £200 (a fair price given the quality), that adds a serious bit of value to the purchase price of one of anOrdain’s watches…not that you really need another excuse to get hold of one.
AnOrdain’s straps are something to write home about
The buck does not stop with the cases, though. AnOrdain’s straps are of equally high quality. As we all know, leather straps are quite the minefield to try and navigate. It’s not just the smaller brands using inferior leathers. Even some more prominent brands costing upwards of several thousand Euros have a bit of a reputation for awful leather straps. I’ll not name names here, but I’m sure some of you will know the main culprits. Considering that anOrdain’s watches cost around £1,500 at the upper end, to see such scrutiny and dedication to offering the very best leather straps and goods is heartening.
Thankfully, these horse butts seem to complement anOrdain’s timepieces wonderfully.
Of all of anOrdain’s leather straps, it’s only the cordovan and suede ones I’ve had the pleasure of seeing up close. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with shell cordovan leather. It’s always “awesome” or “awful” when paired with a watch. It’s got a signature look to its smooth and glossy surface. Thankfully, these horse butts seem to complement anOrdain’s timepieces wonderfully. It’s such a great material, though, and has a fantastic non-creasing characteristic. Cordovan leather straps age and patina wonderfully, while always remaining strong and stable.
The suede straps were equally as lovely. As I said previously, I love the feeling of suede. It’s so soft and comfortable on the wrist, and it also ages nicely. It takes on a buffed and smooth texture over time, picking up various blemishes and marks which only add to its character.
Having tried many leather straps over the years, I must say that anOrdain’s really were some of the nicest I’ve tried. I’d love to hear from current and previous anOrdain owners now: tell me about your experiences with the brand’s leather goods? Did you love them as much as I did? Let me know in the comments!
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