WHO TO FOLLOW: @nobleandgraffAndy Green
Sick of the same old in your Insta-feed? We can highly recommend the account of watch lover and leather goods wizard N G Lester of UK-based Noble & Graff. Get ready for a screen full of his creations, punctuated with pics of many (many) watches. Oh, and poodles. There are poodles.
NAME: N G Lester
OCCUPATION: Crafter of luxury trunks and fine leather goods, and vintage watch connoisseur
Time+Tide: How did you end up making luggage?
N G Lester: I started my career in men’s tailoring, and my first encounter working with leather was at the Alexander McQueen studio. They were short-staffed and I got moved to the accessories department, where I made belts and key chain prototypes for manufacturing. My passion for making luggage didn’t really start until about 12 years ago when I purchased my first trunk on eBay that was made in 1960. When it arrived, I was in shock at the level of detail. The finishing, personalisation, the lid corner, the hinges, bolts… The little details were fascinating. Ever since, I’ve been studying them and finding places where I could learn this almost-lost craft, to bring back the true bespoke trunk service using those old techniques.
T+T: You make watch cases and straps too. What do you wear on your wrist day-to-day?
NGL: There are three pieces in my collection that I wear most. Two of them are Rolex Military Submariners, which I bought for my daughter’s birth. She’s five months old now, and I’m planning to give her the pieces one-by-one, starting on her 18th birthday. Apart of being important pieces in horological history, for me the the Milsub is like an undercover watch. To the common eyes, they look just like another old sub, but for someone with the same passion, it’s instantly recognisable and a conversation starter. The third is a Tudor Military Submariner, issued on my birth year, which I found while randomly looking in a shop window a few years ago. It’s so understated. Without seeing the back, no one ever even know it’s a milsub – so I take it everywhere with me. It’s been to many different countries, from up to the Arctic to the North Korean DMZ.
T+T: Your watch pouches and cases decorated with old-school computer graphics are a clever mix of high quality and pop-culture. How did you come up with that idea?
NGL: During my student years, before he became world-famous, street artist Banksy was very active around my neighbourhood. His method of combining something funny with a serious message has always been a great inspiration to my life and work. By doing this collection, I want to let my audience understand that Noble & Graff isn’t just about the serious craftsmanship involved in making them, but also the fun of having our products.
T+T: How do you unwind?
NGL: At least twice a year, I make sure I spend some time off the grid to recharge. It doesn’t have to be fancy or luxurious. In fact, I very much prefer the wilderness, hiding in the woods and shutting off from the city life, going back to bare basics for at least a couple of weeks.