24 May 2010

Guest Post: Comeback of a veteran Filofaxer

Many thanks to reader Bernhard for this excellent guest post!

Yuppie equipment of the 1980s: A Filofax Buckingham, "Made in England" and a Rolex watch.
During the 1980s, organising and coordinating work and private life became an essential need for me. Today I know that one will end up with the most simple solution available.

But let's go back to the 1980s. Electronics didn't offer really much at this time - there were organisers by Sharp to store some 50 names and phone numbers which wasn't even enough for my mates in the soccer club.

Then news about a trendy binder to be used by prominent owners made me curious: What was that Filofax thing?

1987, staying as a tourist in London, I bought a Buckingham Personal in Lewisham Highstreet. I'm still proud that I didn't choose a Winchester at Harrod's with their logo engraved into it because Lewisham offered more authentic locals than the tourist traps around Leicester Square. In fact, these guys were completely convinced that the 1966 Wembley goal was absolutely correct.

A Winchester Personal followed in 1994 completing my new collection of a 1991 Slimline with gold-plated corners and a 1992 Slimline Executive of kid leather, all of them "Made in England" and lying flat on the desk after opening.

By the way: In German business management and IT industry, one organizer brand was even more popular than the Filofax: For creating a professional impression, almost everybody owned an A5 "TimeSystem" with its costly paper content.

My eyes were getting weaker so I started writing bigger characters, and the Personal format got too small so that I bought a red Filofax Ascot A5 in 2000. This ring binder is like the actual Amazona model, but "Made in USA", most probably by DayRunner who had aquired Filofax by then and outsourced production.

The Ascot proved to be the last Filofax I used on the desk, plus a mobile Slimline for all sorts of cards and the calender. But electronics became stronger these days. I changed to the Mac to process my calender and contacts and the Filofax era seemed to be history.

But PDAs, Blackberrys and the iPhone didn't work simple enough. Typing short notes into an electronic device is a really stupid thing to do, you have to care for battery lifetime, synchronising new content. And never let your mobile drop to the ground! As a reward, it makes you look a real professional juggling your iPhone all during the day.

Slowly but surely the Filofax Slimline had a comeback - today it's essential for the most comfortable way of organising my life: I use the Slimline as my calendar and wallet because it is easy to take anywhere, six credit card holders are sufficient for traveling and it has some spare paper for notes when I'm out of the office. In comparison to the actual models I am relieved that I may use this older model which is of better leather material and craftsmanship.

Calls, tasks and items to buy are on a simple A4 sheet of paper which is on my desk, urgent things are marked by sticky notes in the Slimline. The A5 Ascot finally serves an archive for anything I should keep, organising these data with an A-Z index.

Last month I discovered a Filofax Finsbury A5 Folder made of black leather which is a perfect desk accessory: I can dump all my notes there no matter which format and check them during the weekend. Best thing: This folder cost only 19 Euro in a Karstadt shop because this retail chain went out of business recently.

In 1987, I had paid some 70 Euro for the Buckingham and some 80 Euro for the Slimline in 1992. Because prices have doubled in Germany since then, these models would still be top-of-the line of today's Filofax range. Good things never go out of style, I guess.

Best from Germany,


PS: A special thanks for Philofaxy because here I learned how to use sticky notes which are a perfect reminder to important tasks or appointments.



  1. Wow, great post!
    Makes me proud I walked away from Franklin like YM did.
    Realizing my blackberry can't do it all and having something to write in makes carrying a Finchley personal all so worth it.
    I do wish for a Winchester style with 1.25" rings but unless you want the Guildford zip I'm out of luck for now. Someone suggested Filofax bring back a few retro models and I sure hope this dream comes true. Thanks team Philofaxy, you definetly keep me in check.

  2. No more Franklin Gregor...we can do it! When I moved I actually tossed a lot of my FC stuff.

    Maybe if enough of us make noise about resurrecting the vintage models, Filofax will listen!


  3. Good post!

    I am fortunate to have a number of the older personal size binders that still have the Filofax logo and "Made in England" stamped inside the frot cover. I also have a binder made of pigskin sith the logo stamped on the gusset iside the rear cover. I have never seen another like it.

    I have a Kendal that I purchased new in the early 90's, and has been used everyday since, and it is better than the first day I started using it.

    The only new product I have aquired recently has been a Pocket Finchley. It shows more wear in less than a year than my others that are 20+ years old.

    I too, encourage the Filofax company to go back to the high quality it was reknown for earlier in its storied past. Come out with a limited line of binders made with English bridle leather with a premium waxed linen threat. Don't bother with so many pockets and zippers, use gussets front and back and above all be able to say with justifiable pride, "Made in England.

    The "soft leather" is junk, and I will not be buying any more of their current production.


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  5. There are a couple of good "Winchester" Filofax's on ebay right now if anyone's looking for a bit of the old style quality!