So exactly 13 weeks and 1 day after I placed my order (and it took an additional week prior for SAB to actually respond to my several e-mails and phone calls), this finally arrived at my doorstep on Friday:
But, UPS tells me, I have to pay $195 in customs fees
After hurting for a bit, I did some calculations and confirmed that I still came out about $110 better than if I'd used classicluggage.com. I then went to see the King's Speech, and Britain was once again in my good graces
. That said, beware of these customs charges. I assumed that they would ship the case by Royal Mail, avoiding such charges, but they didn't. When they e-mailed me to ask about the embossing, I requested that they send me the tracking number when it shipped, and this would have let me know the shipping method. But of course, they never responded. Nevertheless, by using UPS, I did receive it in 2 days, versus the 2+ weeks Royal Mail/USPS probably would have taken. But I would have preferred to save $195...
Continuing along, inside the larger box was a smaller box.
Inside the smaller box was a dust bag.
Inside the dust bag was...beauty:
On my monitor, at least, the pics are true to color (though some were taken the night I received it, others the morning after). The case is London Tan. In other pics that I've seen, the case looks more orange than this, and in others (like Rambler's below), the case looks more beige. I imagine the exact color will vary by bag and by age/use. This thread started because I was debating between three (London Tan, Chestnut, Havana) of the four colors offered (fourth is black, which looks nice with the nickel hardware). I am now happy that I went with London Tan--it's really a beautiful color for this leather. That said, all four colors are nice, and I don't think I would have been disappointed with Chestnut, my close second-favorite. But I'm glad I chose London Tan.
I'm not going to repeat PeterEliot's excellent review linked above, as everything he said still holds true. Instead, I will supplement with a few things I was still curious about after his review.
First, as you can see from this side picture, there is quite a bit of room for the body of the case to expand while still allowing the flap to close completely.
But when I was contemplating the purchase, I debated whether I should order the three-position lock seen here:
Instead, I opted for the round lock found on the larger American-style case (Westminster 3). A square lock is standard on this case. To test the flap's closing ability, I packed the case with a binder from work, some papers, a small notebook, a laptop case, and my phone. This is about equal to a weekend's worth of papers.
As you can see everything fit easily, and there was room to spare. I imagine the case would stretch to over six inches. And to my relief, the flap still closed. I had to tighten the body with the straps and pull down on the flap a good bit, but it still closed without a problem. I imagine I could fit a few more papers in the bag and that over time, the flap will stretch a bit more to accommodate more items. Nevertheless, if I were to fill the case to capacity at this point, I don't believe the flap would close (though the case would still be secured by the straps), and that's something to consider if the three-position lock appeals to you.
As you can see above and below, I also had my case customized with inside pockets for an iPhone/Blackberry/something else of that size, and a couple of pens.
I'm glad I did this, as the organization came in quite handy when I was filling the case. I could still easily access my phone and pen even with papers in the front gusset. Without them, I'd have to rummage around the bottom of the gusset for them. I also debated getting the laptop case, with the foam cushioning. But I think a hard laptop sleeve probably provides as much protection while maintaining the flexibility of having a fully functional middle gusset (and I like the aesthetics better).
In addition, I had SAB add a newspaper pocket to the rear of the bag:
Truthfully, I was expecting something like Rambler's pictured here:
So I was a bit surprised/disappointed when I saw that mine covered the straps as well. I suppose that's a lesson in customization for you: be specific! That said, I'm now glad they did it, as it adds some very functional space to the bag. As you can see here, even when full, I was able to add a regular-sized magazine to the newspaper pocket:
While this probably would have fit in a smaller newspaper pocket, I would not have been able to place it horizontally, like so:
Plus, since it's the rear of the bag, and I don't intend to tote it backwards very often, the fuller pocket does not really interfere with the aesthetics as much as I initially thought. So I'm pleased with the addition, though I realize some might not like it (so be specific if you desire a smaller pocket to be added).
So overall, I'm quite pleased with the purchase and would do it again despite the nonresponsive customer service, 13-week wait, and exorbitant customs charges... I am confident the bag will give me many years of good, handsome service.
I would be happy to update the thread from time with patination pics, since I plan to carry it most days, and patination pics were the hardest to find. In the meantime, I will leave you with a couple more pics of this lovely case fresh out the box: