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Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Original personal size Filofax in Patent Purple

I'm very excited to review The Original Filofax! I know people have a lot of questions about this new binder, and I hope to answer them all here. If you have a question about anything I haven't covered here, please ask in the comments!

First, I want to thank Filofax and The Ideas Network very much for sending me this sample of The Original personal size in Patent Purple to review.

Second, I want to direct you to Steve's review of the A5 size of The Original in Standard Green over on Philofaxy.

And, I've done a video showing more details of the leather and how to use the elastic inside the front cover, which you can click here to see.

Some background info: The Original Filofax recalls the early days of Filofax style. I like the way they describe it on the Filofax website: "The Original: a Filofax that looks like a Filofax--unapologetically iconic." Click here to see the Filofax UK page to see all the colors available of The Original Filofax. I really appreciate that they have made such a large selection of colors including fluoro brights (orange and pink), patent finishes (fuchsia and the purple I'm reviewing here) and classic colors (yellow, green, brown and black). The vibe of this Filofax is fun, cool and creative.

Now on to the review! First of all, I like Filofax's new packaging. The plastic cover allows everyone to see inside the Filofax in the store, then when you buy it you take the plastic off and the cover of your new Filofax is still pristine!

As indicated on the packaging, this Filofax is made in the UK, which is fantastic. I know many of us have been asking for years for a Filofax made in the UK. Wish granted!

Here is The Original in all its Patent Purple gloriousness! First, let me go on for awhile about the leather.

The Original is made from a full cut of leather. It is thick and soft. Despite the patent shine, it is not plastic-y at all. In fact you can still see the grain of the leather. It is soooooo smooth, I love to touch it! People who are tactile like I am will really appreciate the smooth feel of the leather. It also has that great leather smell.

And look! Despite the thickness of the leather, the binder lays flat immediately with no training at all.

And yet it still has enough structure to be firm and easy to write in when you are holding it in your hands. It's not floppy.

Below you can see The Original open and empty so you can see the internal layout. The binder is made of simple cuts of leather with no fabric lining and nothing sandwiched between layers of leather. On the left is an elastic band that can hold pens and/ or your phone (lots more details on that later in this post) and a couple of slots for cards. On the right are slots to hold a jot pad. Inside both covers are full length pockets.

Here is the jot pad that fits into the slot in the back cover. This is the Flex jot pad, not the Notepad.
**Edited to add: click here to see Steve's genius post on Philofaxy on how to cut the Filofax Notepad (with holes to fit on the rings) to fit in this back pocket.  I don't have a personal size notepad to try it with but I'm sure the results are the same.

Here is a closeup of the logo embossed inside the front cover. Cool!

Below you can see the thickness of the leather and the construction of the binder. It is made from full cuts of leather with nothing in between. The ring mechanism is attached directly through the leather.

Here you can see on the spine where the ring mechanism is held on through the leather.

Here is another example of the leather and the construction: the card slots are simple slits in the leather.

Here you can see the back side of the leather inside the binder. Again you can see the grain of the leather. Also you can see details of the stitching.

Here is a closeup of the snap cover, which says "FILOFAX The Original est. 1921" and looks retro-cool on the front.

Here is the back of the binder, where you can see the strap closure is held on by a simple attachment.
I hope that has answered your questions about the leather and the construction. If not please feel free to ask anything you want to know!

Now I will address the elastic pen holder. Several people have speculated about its usefulness.

Below I've shown it holding some Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pens.
When you have more than two pens in the middle (large) elastic, you have to put a fatter pen between two thinner ones so it doesn't slide through.

Below you can see the pens inside the binder with the cover closed. You can see that if you carry fatter pens, you may need to reduce the number of pages you carry on the rings.

The pen loop does cause the pen to lie on top of the pages.

Here is a side view showing the pen on top of the pages.
I have suggested to Filofax that they lengthen the strap in future editions of these binders to more easily accommodate items held in the elastic straps.
Personally I prefer to clip my pen to the pen loop so that the pen lies outside the page edges:

Below you can see my phone in the middle strap, held securely.  The middle strap measures 2.5 inches/ 6.3 cm wide, to help you determine if your phone would fit there.
And here you can see the binder closed with my phone in there.
You can see the elastic holders in action in my video for more information.

Next I want to discuss the style of The Original. I would call the style Retro not Vintage. This is not a Winchester revival. It's a retro-cool style that is not an exact duplicate of a Filofax from years ago, but is more like a nostalgic nod to the old style.

As a comparison, I've shown The Original alongside the oldest Filofax I own, my Buckingham from 2001 (where you can see the heartbreaking cover damage I described awhile back on Philofaxy). The Buckingham is not actually vintage, but its design is very similar to older Filofax models. You can see the design of The Original is similar but not identical to the Buckingham. The Original is a modern version of the classic Filofax style.

Here are the insides of The Original and Buckingham showing the layouts of the front covers.

Another comparison: the insides of the pockets on The Original show the back side of the thick leather.

Inside the pockets of the Buckingham there is Filofax printed fabric.
Anyway, you get the idea, The Original is not meant to be a duplicate of a vintage style of binder, but more of a modern version of the classic Filofax style.

Some people asked how The Original compares to a Domino, because they thought the construction looks similar. I can assure you there is a big difference between the faux leather Domino and the full cut leather Original. Here is The Original next to my A5 Domino in Ultra Violet.

The Domino is a good looking non-leather binder, but it still doesn't compare to the shiny real leather of The Original.
Here you can see details of the stitching and the texture of the covers.
Here are the inside covers compared, with the faux suede of the Domino on the left and the real leather interior of The Original on the right.

The inserts in The Original are different from previous years' Filofaxes. There is a page behind the clear flyleaf showing it is made in the UK. Also you can see the colored numbered tabs, which look really nice.
The Original comes with lots of different types of paper including To Do sheets, lined, graph, plain and colored paper, and Contacts pages (but no A-Z tabs).
Included are diary inserts for July-December 2013 and January-December 2014. The 2014 diary is 5 languages and has the same layout as the Cotton Cream week on two pages with a This Week box above Monday, but with white paper. Interestingly, I don't see this exact week on two pages diary insert available for separate purchase on the Filofax UK website, and I don't have any information on whether it will be available for separate purchase. I like it.
Also included is a frosted flexible Today pagemarker and a frosted top-opening envelope.

Some people also asked about the rings and whether there are any gaps. The rings on this binder are perfect, and I've been assured by Filofax that they have all been quality inspected before leaving the warehouse.

I hope that answers any questions you have about The Original in the personal size! Like I said, if there is anything else you would like to know, please leave a comment or email me and I would be happy to answer.

Thanks again to Filofax and The Ideas Network!

***Edited to add: several people asked me for photos of Franklin Covey Compact size pages in this binder. Please see below.

The Franklin Covey Compact pages go all the way to the edge of the binder, and the tabs stick out a lot and are crushed by the strap.
Below is another view of the tabs being crushed by the strap.

Here you can see how far the tabs stick out.
The pages go all the way to the edge of the binder, making the pen loop totally unusable.

The biggest problem is the shortness of the strap. Not only does it crush the tabs, but it severely limits the number of pages you can put in, which is an issue with the Franklin Covey two pages per day inserts.
 In my opinion, you are much better off using a Malden for Franklin Covey pages because it has a much longer strap, which means the tabs do not get crushed and you can put lots more pages in. See my post here to see Franklin Covey Compact size pages in my personal Malden.


  1. The basic design and construction details remind me of the Success Choice planner binder. It looks nice; I'm not sure if I would buy one, being quite the vintage filo-freak.

    Many thanks for the thorough review with all the pictures! Looks really nice!

  2. Now that is one heck of a binder, now I just need to decide on colour and size :o)

  3. Really enjoyed your review!Filofaxes+coffee matches so well :o))
    First I was not impressed at all,but now I really like to own one.Still not a fan of that penloops-/elastics ;o)

  4. Thorough review, thanks so much!

  5. Thanks for the great review, Laurie. At first, I was not impressed but from your review, I can see that the leather is not as stiff and hard as I had anticipated. I didn't think I'd like the patent either, but it looks good. I wonder how it will "age" as opposed to other leather? I'm a very tactile person, too and would like to see it soften even more and take on an enhanced patina, which it might over time. Like that it lies flat out of the box. I wouldn't use the loop in front for my iPhone b/c it's always with me in the open or in my pocket - I would never hear it transporting it this way. In sum, I am much less opposed to this binder than I was in the beginning and might purchase one - for one thing I LOVE the purple color, so that may just do it for me! The new packaging is nice, too - but I guess the box is gone now?? It was nice to have the box for safe storage, etc. but I suppose this new way cuts down on costs, etc. Thanks again for your nice review and video!

  6. Other new Filofaxes have the same kind of inserts (colored tabs, lots of colored paper, 18-month diary, top-opening envelope, etc.), like this one: http://tinyurl.com/cu5k57g. Maybe that's going to be the standard contents from now on (?).

    I think it's great that Filofax has gone back to thick leather, while also offering alternative, non-leather materials, like the Saffiano linked to above, the Fusion, and the Doodle (the cover of which you can actually draw on!).

  7. Excellent review (and video) Laurie. Between you and Steve you've made me want to buy a personal patent purple one, even though I don't know what I'd use it for. I may just settle for a keyring instead, for now...

  8. Hmmmm, now that I see that the Original is smaller than the Buckingham I suppose there's no way it would hold my FC compact pages. Guess, I'll have to stick to my Malden then. Not that this is a punishment ...;-)

    1. Jotje I popped some Franklin Covey compact size pages into The Original and the pages are ok but the tabs are definitely crunched by the strap.

    2. Pity, would have been nice to have more filofax-options for the FC pages. So far, Malden seems to be the only feasible solution. Good thing I'm still madly in love with my purple Malden ... ;-)

  9. I really want to order the green one.. but my current filo is still working fine and its pretty costly for a new one. Great review!

    1. I too am finding the green one incredibly compelling. But I doubt that I will buy one, at least at the moment. I think I'd rather pony up a bit more and buy the Glenroyal organizer in green. Or better yet try to find a green Winchester!

    2. Josh I have to admit I've had my eye on the Glenroyal ones for awhile and have told my DH I want one for my birthday! (Not for several months yet). I can't decide which color to get though. Unfortunately they don't come in green. Here are their leather colors:


      Here are the "gent's organizers"


      And here are the ladies' ones:


      I can't decide between the Tan, Lilac or Ruby!!!

  10. Thanks for a great review, Laurie.
    Love this binder & I could be tempted if I wasn't so content with my Malden & Holborn :)

  11. Wow, great review, thanks! All the photos are fantastic. I love all things purple and this is quite the temptation, even though I am quite content with my purple Malden. I really like the thick leather of this new binder and the simplicity of it...only thing I can't get around just yet is the exposed rivets on the spine. I suppose even that could "grow" on me though with the right persuasion!

  12. What do you think about the patent when it comes to fingerprints and smudges? I would absolutely hate to have to shine it all the time, but I love this binder so much! Some patent is worst then others when it comes to this so I'm just wondering.

    1. Hi Lori, fingerprints definitely show on it but they wipe off easily, so you don't have to constantly buff it to keep it looking nice. :)

  13. thank you very much for these photos, Laurie.

  14. nice review. I m eyeing on an original A5. The seller s not aware of the strap issue. I wondered if u know when exactly Filofax resolved the issue. How about publication date in around Oct 2013? Thank you :)

    1. Hi Coco, sorry I don't know. You might ask the seller to measure it for you.

  15. Hi. I'm a filo newbie looking to by my first and I think I'm falling in love with this model. It is simple and beautiful. May I ask you how this Filofax is doing now that you've had it for a year (?). Also, how does the patent leather handle pen scratches and getting wet and other such things?



    1. Hi Ana, I gave this Filofax away to a friend soon after I got it so I couldn't tell you how it's doing now. But loads of people have this one, google it and you'll see it on lots of blogs. Good luck!

  16. Laurie, thank you for this great article and the photos! Do you happen to know the empty weight of the Personal Original?


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