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09 May 2013

The Original Review

The Original got some quite mixed opinions when we published the press release a couple of weeks ago. However, I was pleased to receive a review sample from Filofax UK this week to see for myself how good or bad this new model really is.

Starting off with some background information. The Original marks the return of manufacturing of Filofax personal organisers to UK for the first time since about 1991 (Unless someone knows a different date?). In recent years a lot of the organisers have been manufactured in either China or more recently India.  I think The Original is a positive sign for the future of the design and manufacturing of Filofax personal organisers in the UK.

The Original, is a very simple and straight forward design, available in both Personal and A5 size, it has been released in 8 different colours and 3 different finishes. I do not know of another model that Filofax have released in such a large number of colours at the introduction of a new model?

The colours range from black, brown, green, yellow, to fluro pink and fluro orange, and patent purple and patent fuchsia.

The first change I noticed with this model is that it comes in just a clear plastic sleeve. It does mean that the products can be displayed in stores and people can see the colours and handle them without marking the leather in anyway.




The construction of the Original is made out of one piece of 2mm thick leather for the cover, even on the A5 this is a single piece, compare that to say a Malden or other A5's and the cover is in two parts. The inside of the Original also features another two pieces of 2 mm thick leather to form the front and back pockets. A fourth piece of leather is used to form the strap; this is directly attached to the back cover.



Although thick leather is used in the construction of this organiser, which you might think would make it stiff and it would have problems with 'laying flat'. The A5 Original lays flat straight away and the strap of the clasp also doesn't get in the way either once it has been released from the press-stud on the cover.



The 25 mm rings on the A5 model (23mm on the Personal) are fixed directly to the leather cover, there are not stiffeners or 'cardboard' used on this model at all. In fact the only plastic used on the organiser is the acrylic cover on the press-stud button. All of the fastenings are visible not hidden from view.


There are no internal textiles used to form the pockets; the inside of the leather has been shaved to create a reasonably smooth surface, but you can still see the detailed natural grain of the leather, making every one different and individual. The pleasant aroma of the leather has been very evident with the organiser open on my desk next to me whilst writing this review.

Opening up the organiser you will first see two simple card slots, because of the thickness of the leather the cards are certainly held quite firmly and not having a structured pocket behind the slot certainly doesn't seem an issue at all. There is also a full height vertical pocket shared with the card slots. As you can see in the photo below the inside front cover is nicely embossed with the model name and size and the material... Ebay sellers please note!



Sewn to the front cover is a 'multifunctional elastic holder' this is divided up in to three sections. At the outer edge is a more conventional pen loop, then working inwards, a wider section, which is big enough to accommodate most smart phones, and then on the inner end of the holder there is another pen section, but not as a loop.

Using this 'elastic holder' to its full capacity will limit the number of pages the organiser can hold because of the additional thickness these items add to the internal contents. However, I was just about able to get the press-stud to close with two pens and my iPod Touch in the holder and with 18 months worth of diary pages and all the additional fill pages that came with the Original.




In the back cover Filofax provides a jotter pad, similar if not the same as the ones we have seen in the Flex by Filofax, there are top and bottom slots to hold this in place in the leather back inside cover. Like the front there is a full height vertical pocket for storage purposes.


The fill in the A5 is a little different to ones I've previously seen, judging by the 2013 copyright dates the designs are new or tweaked versions of previous ones:
  • Clear flysheet with a signature 'Made in UK' - The Original cover sheet
  • Week on two pages July - December 2013 - Horizontal format.
  • Week on two pages January - December 2014 - Vertical column format
  • To Do sheets with circular check boxes
  • Lined paper in white, green, blue and pink pastel colours. 
  • Graph paper, 
  • Plain white paper
  • Contacts pages in white, but no A-Z index dividers are included
  • 6 numbered section dividers in blue and green pastel shades
  • Side opening zip envelope
  • Frosted ruler
  • Jotter Pad with white paper. 
The main differences are in the Contacts and To-Do pages:




I also did some photos to compare it to a Malden A5.The Malden is of course designed with 30 mm rings hence the slightly wider size in the photo below.




The Original comes in Personal size for £60 and A5 for £80

You can also see Laurie's review of the patent purple personal model over on Plannerisms today and take a look at Laurie's video too.

If you have any questions then please add them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them all.

Once again thank you to Filofax UK and the Ideas Network for the review sample. 

[Supplementary Photographs]

In answer to Helen's question about the outer pen loop. It's not perfect, you would potentially have issues where the tabs are and the pen when closed, but as you will see from the photos below the pen does sit outside of the pages.

55 comments:

  1. Really lovely color. Nice looking binder.

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  2. This review makes me so happy that I ordered a green one from the UK on the 1st. That color is so beautiful, and the format looks like it'll work quite well for me.

    This will be my very first Filofax and it looks like I've made a nice choice. Thanks for posting this!

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  3. The colors are beautiful and I'm glad that they're being made in the UK. I've been eyeing the A5 in the Patent Fuchsia. I'm still undecided as my eye has also been on the Maldens. I guess it just depends on what you want your organizer to do. Thanks for the review!

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  4. Steve,
    Do you know if they're planning to release a mini or pocket of this?
    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. This - I really want a Pocket size! Hopefully if the range is successful they'll expand the size range

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    2. Me too. I think this design would be great in Pocket size.

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    3. I don't have any information on the possibility of a pocket or compact, but I guess it might depend on the commercial success of the Personal and A5 models.

      But I know that Filofax are interested in our views on this new model, so we know they are watching and listening to all our comments on the reviews with great interest!

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  5. Great review. Now I can't decide whether to go for a purple personal Malden or The Original in fuchsia or purple! The simplicity of this binder in really growing on me. I would be interested in a pocket to even though I am not sure I need it all! :)

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  6. Great reviews--thanks so much!

    Any word on when those of us in other countries may expect availability?

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    Replies
    1. Filofax USA says they will have them in stock in the next week or two. You can "pre-order" on Pens & Leather now.

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  7. Phantastic review!Thanks for that :o)) I think I will order one in A5!
    The green colour looks beautiful - but also the patent purple,that Laurie showed...so I will take some to to decide about that ;o)

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  8. Great review but this one is not for me. It looks rather studenty ( no insult to students!)and the elastic strap whilst practical is unattractive to me. Its simplicty and lack fo design is a downside to me but maybe if you want minimalism and a reto look it does the trick? I prefer the more elegantly designed leather products. Even against the Malden this lacks the carfeul finihsing touches that woudl give me pleasure in looking at the product. But I guess at the price point if you are looking for something rugged and practical to throw in a back pack this would do the trick. Horses for courses!

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    1. Hi Helen,

      I totally agree with you. Although Steve has done a great job with his review (as usual, thank you Steve, for all the work you so dedicatedly do for this wonderful blog), this binder is not for me. I appreciate its being manufactured in the UK, but to me, it is too simplistic and it does look like -- in spite of its name -- rather like a cheapish binder than an original brand product. Maybe it looks better in real life, though, than on photos.

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    2. Holding it is the final test of any binder... photographs or videos deny you the senses of touch and smell... all part of the Filofax owning experience...?

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    3. @Steve Morton: Maybe that is the difference. Still, I have my eyes set on the blue Flamingo Filo rather than the Original. I just love that Florida-ish looking design. :-)

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    4. Too true Steve, but is an elastic strap going to feel luxurious? :)
      Please understand my comments are not actually a complaint... The fewer new ones I like to add to my ridiculously burgeoning collection the better!

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    5. Added thought...now I think about it I do remember a time when, in a shop, I showed my husband a Malden and how nasty and floppy it was and how it did nothing for me. Now I own seven of them and am awaiting the Aqua. So I could well be wrong about the Original :)

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    6. Likewise, I bought a Chameleon instead of a Malden when I first saw them... and err... somehow I now have 10 of them!

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  9. The layout of these inserts looks like the cotton cream ones', but in white! Any idea if those will be sold seperately as well? I love the cc Personal W2P layout, but I don't like the cc colour.

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  10. I just love the colours and leather of these and the layout. But.... why, oh why, oh why no 30mm rings as an additional choice to the size here.... so folks can choose the ring size??? Some folks would appreciate a slot for their phone and rings big enough for a DPP and with bigger rings this would be a solution. If I could afford an i- phone, this would be perfect, as I could just use the rings for my Steve and Ray Time Management Diary and app other information onto the phone. *Sighs*

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  11. Thanks, Steve.....I know want a green Original!!!!!

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  12. Every time I see these I get a little giddy over patent leather... I love that option.
    Tracy

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  13. FINALLY a green binder! And a simple, classic one to boot!

    But, I will not buy, I will not buy, I WILL NOT BUY!

    (hoping if I say it enough, I'll actually resist :)

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  14. Great review as always, Steve.

    I like the simplicity of the design, and the fact that the binder lays flat. Not sure about the elastic strap, though, and Filofax don't seem to be keen to specify what type of leather they've used.

    I'm looking forward to seeing some pics of some English based craftsmen, wearing leather aprons whilst skillfully "making" these "made in UK" binders.

    Hope it's more than a bonded leather job, that's just "assembled" in the UK, especially since there's been so much marketing to associate this new range with pre 1991 products.

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    Replies
    1. Neil, I have it on good authority that they are made under license from Filofax by The Leather Satchel Co. est in 1966 in the north west of England just outside Chester, although they have another workshop in Knowsley just outside Liverpool. English enough for you?

      So if you want that matching leather satchel/Filofax look both in leather and colour then take a look here: http://the.leathersatchel.co/

      As I am originally from that part of the world, any one requiring translation skills I can help with d'lingo pal !

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  15. Great review, thanks Steve.
    I really like the purple patent leather, however what completely turns me away from this binder is the exposed grommets. I have worked for an office supply company in California for the past 25 years and I can tell you exposed grommets means "economy" (translation cheap) when a ring binder is manufactured that way. I think I will stick with my purple Malden...until such day comes I can afford a yellow Ostrich!

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  16. Thanks for a great review, Steve.
    If I wasn't so content with my Malden & Holborn, I could be tempted by one of these definitely!

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    Replies
    1. The purple one would look very good next to your satchel...

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  17. Thank you for the review. I actually like The Original. The elastic band, although it may not be attractive to everyone, would work well for me as my favorite pens are always too thick for my FF. And a great way to store the phone. Nice colors too.

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  18. Despite already owning my dream Filofaxes (personal purple Malden and personal imperial purple Finchley), due to the excellent reviews by you and Laurie I now want a personal patent purple Original. Oh dear...

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  19. I just received an A5 Original in brown and it is gorgeous! I didn't expect it to be so wonderfully supple and floppy. The leather is lovely and of a quality which compares favourably with my handcrafted satchel and I love the simplicity of the design. I think (and I know this is bordering on sacrilege to say it) I think I love it even more than the Malden 8-0

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  20. Steve,
    thank you for this great review.
    I have a question regarding the most left pen loop in The Original A5. Laurie has shown in her video of personal size that when the organiser is closed even the most outward pen loop lies on top of the pages, not next to them.
    So my question is, is it the same with A5? If I use only the most outward pen loop in A5, is the pen going to be on top of the pages as well?
    Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. I will post some additional photos in a moment, basically no it doesn't appear to be an issue on the A5

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    2. OK extra photos added at the foot of the review. Hope they help.

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    3. Thank you very much, Steve.

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  21. I love this and I need it in brown, love the green though too, decisions decisions, got to be A5 though :-)

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  22. Thank you for all your great feedback on this review. I felt a bit under pressure to get this one written and on the blog. Because of the delay in getting the sample to me, I had a few days less with the organiser compared to Laurie to be able to pick out the essential points etc etc.

    But I have to give a big shout out and thank you to Laurie for sharing her rehearsal video with me and the many Skype chats we have had in this last week to share our views and thoughts on various aspects about each organiser.

    Please keep the comments coming, love to read your feedback and again if you have any additional questions I will do my best to answer them.

    Thank you

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  23. Steve,how tight is the strap on the A5?

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    Replies
    1. Not impossibly tight, but not as 'slack' as say one on an A5 Malden.

      If I could suggest an improvement to the design the strap would be one thing I would suggest could do with being a bit longer, only 5-10mm longer though.

      One good thing though is the strap doesn't get in the way when you have opened the organiser, it stays out of the way!

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  24. Although I asked about the mini or the pocket earlier, I have to say I'm not as impressed as I wanted to be.

    First, I worry about the durability of this binder. Over time, the elastic is going to strech, "the pocket" slits will give, and could the finish rub off the outside? Also, if a person includes multiple pens/phone in the elastic, could the press stud holding the snap strap eventually tear through?

    Second, I see their 'retro' version as cost-saving manufacturing. No lining, only 2 card slits, and not even a full notepad, to me, scream how they're willing to cut costs and quality to produce an inferior model but emotionally makes people nostalgic.

    Third, I just don't feel the company has listened to ANY of our suggestions in the online community. We've asked for classic styles. Classic styles have more than 2 credit card areas, high quality leather, and a zip pouch...with a gusset.

    Finally, I'm just frustrated at how the whole line seems to be geared for high school teenyboppers. "The Original" is anything but original. Fancy Domino or High Brow Apex is more like it.

    Steve, is this it for the new range? Or are they still holding some back for the fall?

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  25. Oooh I quite like this lovely one, though I agree with others I'm in between the brown and green, maybe one in personal and one in A5! Thanks for the review Steve very helpful!

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  26. I have one, size personal in green, since 3 days, not in daily use yet. I think it's great, like the eleastic band, the leather and its stitching, the little jot pad instead of a notepad (except the refill are exprensive).
    I'm confident for its durability, especially for the standard ones, not so sure for the patent ones.
    The only, and big, disappointment, is the inside of pockets (for cards and jot pad) are not closed, no lining behind. A great fail ... for a little something which surely not cost a lot.
    As if it has no room for bits (like an Apex ?!), I think I will use pouch to store little things as stickers, post-its, memory cards and usb stick, as I don't want to use insert for this as I need all the room in the rings for paper inserts...
    I dislike the package too, a simple transparent plastic sleeve, I would have prefer a cardboard sleeve like in the middle range.

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  27. So, THIS is the long anticipated news on new inserts? CC design on white paper? No chance of ever getting tabbed monthlies then, huh? Despite our begging for several years now...?

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    Replies
    1. This is a review of the Original Judith.. not new inserts?

      But we do have some here that you might like:
      http://philofaxy.blogspot.com/2013/02/new-filofax-a5-diary-layout-for-free.html

      We do them in Personal size too:
      http://philofaxy.blogspot.com/p/diary-inserts.html

      And you can print them on any colour/quality paper you wish.

      Steve

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    2. I admit, those new inserts were featured in Lauries review ... ;-)

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    3. But I notice you didn't have your little moan on Laurie's review about the lack of your precious tabbed monthlies... ;) And why is that Judith???!!!

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    4. Clearly, because I reserve my complaining exclusively for Philofaxy, Steve!

      *fatgrin*

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  28. Well to each his own as they say...it may not be for everyone. I actually like the grommets on the outside for this model. It seems to fit. This model reminds me so much of Cambridge and other satchels that are, like it or not, very on trend at the moment. I like it. I'm not sure about the internal layout as I prefer more card slots and not super keen on the band but I would like to see it in person. I'm very drawn to the patent...yes, throwback to school days. Lol as far as its bent towards the young...well, yes, maybe, I'm no marketing expert but it seems there would be a strategy behind these things. They've dabbled in fashion, now the younger market...I'd say they are covering their bases and some will fail, some may succeed as in all product launches. Time will tell.

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    Replies
    1. Steve, thanks for the detailed reviewed.

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  29. They really nailed the proportions on the A5 size. Looking back and forth between Laurie's and Steve's reviews, I note that the closure looks too big on the personal but perfection on the A5. The button on the snap is also more appropriately proportioned on the A5.

    Most A5 filos look awkward to me. This one doesn't. Good job filofax!

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  30. Omg I really want to order a few of these in personal size.. and I wish they had pocket! It's been a long time since I've been tempted to get a new filofax but the fact that it's just one big beautiful piece of leather really draws me in. Love the simple details

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  31. Not bad. Very pleasant outside appearance, variety of color choices and a nice thick piece of leather. Please get rid of the elastic internal strap and put a proper standard leather pen loop(s) on. The internal leather should be all in one color.

    I wonder if it would be more durable it the leather wasn't polished and the natural full grain of the leather was exposed?

    I think people will like it.

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  32. Convinced by this and Lauries review I bought the Personal size patent pink one (thanks for enabling), but a quick look showed up a blemish on the front so I returned it straight away. FF customer service recommended I ordered another instead of waiting to have the first one replaced, but they had no stock left ... so I looked at the colours again and in the end I caved in and ordered the yellow instead! I have bought a Leuchtturm pen loop to stick on the card holder in the back and intend to use top dividers instead of side ones to make room for the pen. I am very excited to see the yellow and hope it's an egg yolky, sunny yellow rather than mustard. There will be pics on the Philofaxy flickr site when I get it!

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  33. Great review.
    I just hope and wait to see if Filofax made it with 30 or even 35mm rings, as in the old great times.

    Duarte

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