I'm still striving for the mirror shine, that I know my JL's deserve.
Some of my observations (as a novice):
Polish under natural sunlight. What you imagined to be a dull spot at night, often turns out to be a trick of the (artificial) light.
Someone said that John Lobb polish is made by Saphir. I therefore purchased a tin, only to find that it does not compare to Saphir MÃ©daille D'or. I've experimented with both. The Saphir wins every time. Maybe they were refering to a cheaper line of Saphir products.
From this link: http://www.saint-crispins.com/e_pret/index4.html
I decided to add 30% rubbing alcohol to the water. I've noticed an instant improvement in the mirror. It seems to loosen the wax, allowing it to 'swirl' for longer. The alcohol will slowly eveporate from the vessel, so if you return the next day, you might have to add a drop more.
Take a tiny dab of wax onto a dry cloth. Dip it into the water. Only a droplet of water is needed. The added alcohol increases the rate at which the cloth soaks it up. Start 'swirling' immediately, wasting no time in getting the polish pushed into the pores. Quite soon, the cloth will drag. A few droplets of water are then applied by shaken fingertip onto the leather... more swirling.... When the cloth begins to drag again, I usually breathe heavily onto the leather and continue swirling. You'll begin to see a harder shine developing. I now move onto a clean bit of cloth and just continue with the heavy breath and swirling.
Some may think this a waste of money, but I buy a metre of fluffy cloth (don't know what it's called) from the local haberdashery department. It's similar to the shoe bag stuff, but thinner and softer. I buy it in white, as it'll clearly show which bit has been used. To cover myself, I tell the saleswoman that I'm running up a little white dress for a party over the weekend. Works every time, and saves the embarrassment of her knowing what the cloth is really for.
I can now see how leather quality determines the depth of shine. I can obtain a great mirror on my RMW's. However, the mirror on my JL's is a step up from that.
N.B. Normally, a droplet of water will want to sit there in a single blob. With the alcohol added, a droplet will want to instantly spread out and evaporate. When this ceases to happen, I know that more alcohol needs to be added to the main vessel. Don't go mad and fill the vessel up. 30% (or maybe less say Saint CrispinÂ´s) of a few millimetres of water, is still just a few splashes of the hard stuff.
My mirror shine is approaching perfection.
Hope that helps someone.