13 July 2017

Filofax Holborn Comparisons

The Filofax Holborn is another favourite of mine, the interior design hits all the right spots for me. But there are some interesting differences between the clasp models and the zip models.

So first of all let us look at the Personal size here in brown in Zip and in black for the regular clasp model.

Externally they have used a similar styling. The Zip model has a useful outside slip pocket which you can use to put papers or a smart phone in. Naturally the physical size of the zip model is bigger than the clasp model.

Unzipping the Holborn Zip Personal, it has the same size rings as the clasp model. As you can see in the photo it doesn't quite lay flat. Both only have a single pen loop. Oddly the Zip has 7 card slots, the clasp only 6 card slots. 

Now look at the two photos and note where I have slotted the Philofaxy cards in. On the clasp model you effectively have too additional slip pockets that aren't present on the zip model.

Both have an additional zip pocket on the inside back cover.

Of the two formats I've used the clasp on more than the zip model. However I like them both equally.

Looking now at the A5 Holborn. Again I have the zip in brown and the clasp in black. There are a few more differences in this size.

Once again the zip has a slip pocket on the front cover.

Opening up them both. The A5 Zip does lay flat with no training. The A5 Zip has 30mm rings where as the clasp A5 only has 25mm rings. The Zip gains an extra pen loop on the inside front cover as well. 

Both have 5 credit card slots. Again they have the same pocket arrangement as the personal size with the zip loosing the inside slip pockets again shown by my business cards. 

With the clasp model only having 25mm rings it is quite compact for an A5 and I've found it great to carry around in my bag and use at my desk. With all of those pockets it can hold lots of additional paperwork. I've used the A5 Zip for several trips where the zip closure offers additional security to prevent things falling out of your organiser. 

The Filofax Holborn continues to be available in Pocket, Personal, Personal Compact and A5 sizes and at the time of writing in Black and Brown colours. 

In the past the Holborn was also released in Wine and Grey colours, it appears they have discontinued the Zip models. 

Overall the Holborn is a great organiser, the leather is soft and supple. The clasp models have stiffener between the interior and exterior leather. The Zip models do as well, but it is thinner and less obvious.  

If you can't pick one up new, I'm sure there are plenty around pre-owned. You can of course put in a Wanted advert on our own Ad-spot page. 

You can find other posts about the Holborn range here.

Have you ever owned a Holborn?


  1. I own an A5 zip in wine plus one slimline in black. Last year I wanted to add one compact Holborn to my collection, but was heavily disappointed about the plasticy feeling of the covers of the newer range, I had received. This one I have sent back and never ordered another one.

  2. I have a personal size zip Holborn in wine that I received as a sample to review back when they first came out several years ago. The buffalo leather is buttery soft. But a couple of years ago I bought an A5 Holborn in brown and the leather is so plasticky, my husband said it doesn't even look like real leather, and looks cheap (although it definitely was not cheap to purchase!). Very disappointing. This happened to the Maldens too: back when they first came out the leather was buttery soft and floppy. Now the leathers are either plasticky (for the colored ones) or dry and hard. I had a personal Malden in ochre that was so dry and hard it couldn't even stay open and would self-close!

    1. Hi Laurie,
      It is interesting how different an organiser can be with the same lay-out but with very different leather quality. Here comes the added value for customers when they shop from Van der Spek and Gillio instead of buying from any stock exchange listed company. I am glad to hear that I have not been the only one with the disappointment.

    2. Laurie, I completely agree with you on the quality of the leather getting cheaper and more plastic like! I thought I was the only one who thought that and just figured I was being overly picky/critical. I have decided that I will try and find pre-loved ones first that were made in 2014 or before (I've noticed that 2016 and newer they seem cheaper...not quite sure about 2015 as I've never owned one made in 2015).

  3. I have a personal and an A5 Maldon and the difference between the two are so obvious. The A5 is soft, smooth and flexible where as the personal is hard and grainy. It lays flat but clearly two different types of leathers used

  4. I understand that the Holborn has been produced in at least two different countries (China, India and maybe elsewhere too). This explains the different leather and finishes. Early models were all made in China.

    1. Hi Tim, could it be that the buttery leathers versions of the Holborn were made in China?

  5. I too have a Holborn zip in wine and the leather is wonderful. I'm currently not really using it but can't bring myself to sell it on, it's so nice. And that's even with riveted rings which I don't particularly like.
    I have plenty of hobbies and interests so I'm sure I'll find something soon.

  6. I still use the A5 zip Holborn in wine for work as it is perfect. I love the way it lies flat, I love the different pockets and the 30mm rings, and I love the soft leather. I loved my first one so much I bought a spare one, as the A5 zip version is so unique. I have lots of Filofaxes, but this is the one I use every day.

  7. I have a brown Holborn Slimline. The leather is butter soft and while I've owned it for years, it still looks brand new. I use it as my go to travel folder to hold boarding passes and my travel plans. I would never part with it. :)