30 May 2016

Filofax Classic Croc A5 personal organiser - Review

It has been a little while since I last reviewed a new Filofax model, but after seeing the publicity about the new Classic Croc model I was intrigued to take a closer look. There were several things about the design which peaked my attention.

So it was with a lot of anticipation this morning that I opened the parcel from Filofax that arrived by courier.  I carefully opened the box. And saw a plain white box inside, it was labelled and bar coded classic croc A5 chestnut. Slip the tab I opened to find another box inside.

Yes the return of nice Filofax boxes... tick

Inside was a nicely wrapped organiser in soft paper. I slipped that off.

And then the new style plastic wrapper too. I suspect that is so a retailer can display these on their shelves etc.

With that out of the way finally I had the organiser in my hands. Instantly I could tell I was going to like this one, although normally I'm not a croc leather fan, there was something different about this one.

I really like the broad closure strap, some of you I know will say 'Oh it's the same as.....' but who did come up with that design of clasp first? As you can see in a post of mine last year, this style has been used by a few companies now going back a few years. I do prefer the broader ones though.

The clasp is also of reasonable length too, allowing for a thickness of the organiser of about 4 cm. This gets another tick in the box. Some previous Filofax models have been a little mean on clasp length.

The A5 Classic Croc lays nice and flat when open.

I removed the inserts and put those to one side for a moment as well as the foam ring protector. So I could take a more detailed look at the organiser.

You will see even the A5 has a full width back pocket this can take A4 sheets of paper easily. That is another feature ticked off the list of requests.

The back pocket is lined as are all the pockets with a textile material, it is of good thickness and feels like it will take a lot of wear and tear.

There are plenty of pockets on this model. I think this photo will help show where they all are. So there is plenty capacity for other loose paper work to be stored.

The zipper clasp hides behind a small leather tab when fully closed. This is a simple but neat design solution that others should take note of.

The zip pocket is gusseted at the bottom so it has lots of capacity for even the largest of smart phones. My iPhone 6 had lots of space to get lost in there.

The open aperture in to the pocket measures approximately 18 cm and iPhone 6S Plus is 15.8 cm in length. The zip pocket on the A5 is approximately 12 cm deep, the iPhone 6S Plus is 7.8 cm in width. It should be a perfect fit I would think.  With the zip opening being close to the outside edge it is easy to access the contents of the zip pocket.

Pen loops
There are two elasticated pen loops, fully elasticated too, they have a small leather flap that covers them when not in use. This flap is not sewn to the loop, so the loop can fully expand. This means it will easily take even the largest of pens. I managed to get the leather flap to stay up for a few seconds to take the photo below.

I put in two Pilot Metropolitan fountain pens, these measure about 13 mm at their broadest diameter. I also added some additional paper to 'fill out' the rings to close to the normal sort of level, to show how the two pens fit when the organiser is a 'expanded' a little bit more than with just the inserts supplied.

I think opinions might vary about the leather flaps on the pen loops. I'm not sure myself yet.

We haven't mentioned the card slots yet, on the A5 there are 9 of them in total. I popped in some Philofaxy cards so you can see them.

The A5 Classic Croc comes fitted with 30mm rings. These are described as a 'premium ring mechanism' in the publicity. They feature a polished cover plate and you will notice the absence of rivet heads.

I had to take a closer look to see how they are mounted. So out came my 'ring tools' and off came the cover plate.

Internally they look very similar to any other ring mechanism. But you might notice two holes between rings 1 and 2 and 5 and 6 counting from the top or the bottom. This is the fixing post of the back plate. The back plate is inserted inside the leather and the posts stick out vertically.

If we then take a closer look down through the holes, you might just be able to make out two 'claws' that grip on to the vertical posts. These are the same as the Krause PXR ring mechanisms. The attachment method is very strong and uses an internal star washer to hold the mechanism in place.

Zooming in a little closer.

This type of fixing means that the rings are replaceable, although they use a different method of fixing to the ones we normally see on Gillio and Van der Spek organisers. But unlike other Filofax models that have riveted in ring mechanisms, the ones fitted to this model are replaceable with the same type without the risk of permanent damage to the leather or the construction of the organiser. Another tick in the box for Filofax.

Talking of construction, there is some sniffener between the layers of leather, but it feels quite thin and whilst you can't roll it up like a Swiss roll as you can an A5 Malden. It is no where near as stiff as the Filofax Classics of old. They have chosen a very good compromise I think on the A5 to make it feel soft and pliable in your hands, whilst maintaining some structure to the organiser to allow it to be used in your hand away from a desk or flat surface.  Yes that gets another tick in the box from me.

The A5 Classic Croc comes with the following inserts/accessories.
  • week on two pages diary
  • ruler/page marker
  • to do
  • contacts
  • indices
  • white notepaper
  • coloured notepaper
  • Top opening envelope
The print is all in black ink on slightly off white paper. The style is similar if not the same as Cotton Cream inserts of a few years ago.

I did a quick pen test on a sheet of the plain paper, you can view the results here:

All models are available in the following three colours. Chestnut (as shown in this review), Indigo and Fawn:


The pricing of the Classic Croc is as follows:
  • A5 - £179.00  
  • Personal - £135.00
  • Compact - £129.00
  • Pocket - £99.00
Are these prices reasonable? The price in Euros is about €245 for the A5 model.

A Custom A5 Manager Van der Spek, with two pen loops and a full back pocket would be about €319 (£243). An A5 Gillio Compagna would be between €390 (£297) - €420 (£320). All prices including VAT

In the case of the Van der Spek you are getting a custom organiser with a vast range of leather types and colours, hand made in a small family workshop in the Netherlands together with top quality rings and metal fittings and excellent customer service and high quality leather work.

With the Gillio again you are getting a hand made organiser, that is made with vegetable tanned leather and excellent customer service and high quality leather work.

The Filofax is going to be mass produced in far greater numbers. The sample I received has very good quality rings fitted to it. The leather smells great and is of good quality too. All things considered in my opinion I think it is a reasonable price for this quality of Filofax.

If previous Filofax Maldens are anything to go by, if you like this model and the colours buy it now because in a few years time we are bound to see it on Ebay at 3 or 4 times the current retail price! 

The Classic Croc is available on the Filofax UK website. I'm waiting to hear when Filofax USA will have these in stock.

However, Appelboom (NL) in the Netherlands have them on their website already and you will most probably find their shipping rates to the USA more acceptable too. They will also deduct the VAT as well for non-EU destinations.

I think that the Filofax Classic Croc is a welcome return for those of us that are seeking a quality product at a reasonable price point. It is well made and has some excellent design features built in to the design. I'm hopeful that the team have come up with some other models that are also of this quality in non-croco leathers.

Thank you to Filofax UK for supplying the review sample.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below. If there is anything I have overlooked please ask and I will do my best to answer any questions you might have. 


  1. Love the design but I'm not into croc. I'm going to read your other reviews now.

  2. Thank you for the review!
    I am also not a croco girl, but I really like the design and the look of this. I wonder are the rings oval shape?

    1. The rings are 30mm internal diameter and round in shape

  3. I haven't seen a Filofax model that I would like to own in a while now but the fawn classic croc is beautiful. I really like the full length and zipped pockets too. This design has made me feel quite optimistic!

    1. I just bought the Fawn in personal size, it shipped today. I would prefer a less bold croco print, but this model has enough of the features I want in a wallet/planner that I had to try it.

  4. What is the paper quality like on the supplied inserts? Does it play well with fountain pens?

    1. It depends on the width of the nib, fine works ok, medium does bleed through.

      and the reverse side:

      I've not added these to the review because blogger downscales images to a smaller size.

  5. Excellent review Steve, thanks for this!

    1. Thank you Laurie, I really enjoyed doing this one, going beyond describing what the photos show, taking it apart as much as I could without destroying it, looking at it from the point of view of the things we have had observations and complaints about in the past with other models and seeing how this one stands up against those things.

  6. Great review Steve! With VdS and Gillio having taken the top end of the market, I'm not sure there is a place for Filofax to come back in. Their last attempt - The Alice Temperley Collection - was a disaster. eBay has had dozens of them and generally not attracting any bids at all, or selling for less than half their original price. I cannot see the Croc being valued at £600 in the future as you suggest! A few ticks yes but.. handmade? No. British made? No. Krause rings? No.

    1. I bought this new croc in the personal size. The key positive difference for me over VDS and Gillio is the the 23mm rings and the more structured leather = less bulk, as I use my personal size planners as wallets too. With Gillio Compagna and VDS, their larger 25mm rings combined with soft, flexible leather mean the binder bulks up too much for my taste. So I'm eager to see how this new Filofax works out for me on that score.
      I would prefer a subtler print, gold tone hardware, and more color options like black, grey, and ivory/cream. But this has enough of the features I'm seeking that it may work for me. Will see. Mine just shipped today from the UK to the IS.

    2. The *US*

      I wish there was an edit feature for comments after they're posted! 😄

    3. Tim. I have recently seen a Personal Malden advertised on Ebay for €699 for a Buy It Now price.

    4. Steve - maybe, but did anyone buy it?!! The most expensive Personal Malden SOLD in the past 3 months on eBay UK is an Aqua at £190 in March, although amazingly someone appsars to have paid £360 for a Zipped Compact. More money than sense IMHO!

    5. I totally agree, why would someone pay that amount of money more than the previous retail price for a planner, any planner. I have a draft post on the topic, but I've not published it for fear of offending people!

      The one I saw did sell, so someone did buy it. Not sure who.

      I think though at this price, Filofax have made a step in the right direction, it might not be the same quality as a Gillio or Van der Spek and it is mass produced etc. But for this amount of money I think it is quite a good product.

      I deliberately avoided comparing the Classic Croc to the VdS Touch Me organisers, which in fact are cheaper than this new model. They are also mass produced, but in smaller numbers, they do however come with Krause rings.

      I was trying to find models that had two pen loops, the big back pocket and had a croc leather finish. And the ones I chose do have that or can have that and are available now.

    6. Well, it makes sense to pay more than original retail only when the planner is a discontinued "collectible" model that is still in high demand - just like any other collectibles market. Same logic as paying top dollar for classic cars that are no longer produced, or anything else that is no longer manufactured but still in high demand.

  7. The design is great! Thanks for the review. I especially like the pen loop design. I wonder when USA Filofax going to have it and the price point. I'll report back with my finding.

  8. The design looks great and very boardroom ready..

  9. I still really need to know if my iPhone 6S with its slim Otterbox case will fit in the zip pocket of a Personal.

    1. It looks like it will, because of the gusset. I have a 6s in a slim DualTek case, which is very similar to the Otterbox. I'm pretty sure mine would fit. But I plan to use that zip pocket for coins, and just close my phone into the Filofax as I always do. Once it's snapped shut, the phone is secure, in my experience.

    2. Is it comfortable carrying just your personal binder with the phone, keys, and other contents on errands or shopping for more than a few minutes? Is the binder heavy when you also have several shopping bags? My phone does not fit in my pocket binder and it is inconvenient for excursions without my handbag.

    3. Well I don't carry my keys on my Filofax. :) But yes, I frequently just snap my phone into my personal size binders like Malden, Finsbury, Chameleon, Osterley, when I don't want to carry a handbag for short errands, and have had no issues. I carry my keys in my other hand.
      With my medium Gillio Compagna, it can be a challenge because the strap is shorter. But it works great with personal size Filofaxes.

    4. PS if I'm going to have several shopping bags, I'll usually take my handbag/purse, and keep the Filofax & phone in there. It's of course heavier than a pocket size or compact, but it's totally manageable. It's worth it to me, to have everything in one place, rather than having to carry a separate wallet and planner.
      But if you love pocket size, this new croco binder does come in that size too.

    5. The pocket one looks nice. Thanks for the reply Songbird.

  10. I quite like the internal of this but really don't like croc print. This would possibly tempt me away from my Holborn if it were to appear in a smooth leather (and possible swapping the sides of the zip and cards). the back pocket is the only thing I feel is missing from my holborn

  11. I'm one of those odd people that actually want smaller rings on an A5. Everything else about this model is perfect.

    1. I'm the same way with personal size. The brands that use the larger 25mm rings have bulkier binders. I like the standard 23mm that Filofax has in personal, it's perfect.

    2. Yes that is a constant ask by a lot of people. I tried to illustrate the thinness of the William Hannah Limited notebook/planner disc bound cover which has 20 mm discs, it's surprising how much paper that can hold yet it is still quite slim to hold and carry around.
      We just have to try and convince our friends at Filofax or one of the other brands that 20mm rings in an A5 are desirable but to not spoil the design by adding lots of bulk to the cover in the form of pockets etc.

  12. I highly doubt this will be stocked by Filofax AUS. It comes to $364AUD!! Wee bit out of my price range, but a lovely model!!

  13. I'm sold. Even though I will be drastically downsizing my stash this summer, I want one or more of these. Thinking an A5 and a compact. But I'll start with one to see how we get on. There isn't one feature I don't like about it from photos...I can overlook the pen loop for other desired features. Thank you for another top notch review and exquisite photos.

  14. I agree about the bulky A5 binders. I was so desperate that I spent €300 for a Mignon brand A5 because it has smaller rings and a very slim design. I'm really pleased with it, but, gosh that's a lot of money!

    Anyway, thanks for the detailed review, Steve. It was really helpful. Maybe a compact and a pocket size are in my future...

  15. Finally... a new release by Filofax that I would actually consider buying! Wonderful & thanks for a great review, Steve.

  16. I ordered my A5 Croc from Appelboom last Thursday and it arrived Monday afternoon. The total was $236 (shipping included), a bargain compared to purchasing it from the Filofax UK site directly. It's a steal compared to a Gillio. This croc planner is just WOW - ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!

  17. I will be selling the personal size one in Fawn that I bought. I missed my Gillio Compagna secretarial flaps & gold rings. Also, this Filofax has a little flap over the zipper tab that was driving me crazy. I'm not sure what its purpose is. Are metal zipper tabs something that need camouflaging??

    1. I think the zipper tab is to prevent the metal tab of the zip digging in to your paper pages/dashboard

  18. These are now available on the US site, and at a couple US retailers. I'm tempted, but I just don't understand the zip pocket starting at the bottom. If you don't use it for a phone, your stuff falls out while you unzip it.


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