I've never really had problems with the first. I've heard about the odd rivet falling off from other people's stories but it wasn't just on the first style. That being said, the first isn't a bag for those who tend to carry a lot with them. I personally carry my first when I know I'm not going to need much with me. It's a great on-the-go bag!
The first is my fav style. I have 3 firsts, a mini twiggy and a day. I did own a black city (bought it used) - one of the rivets on the front came off (I didn't notice when or where - just that it was gone). I assumed I knocked it with a door or something.
The person that bought it from me took it to Bal NY and they replaced it for her.
I've heard of 2 FW 04 bags with stud issues, so I think it was the season... and they were both firsts. I could be wrong of course and it could be a coincidence.
Thankfully, the First limits you with its size in how much you can carry. Both my Firsts are holding up well - knock on wood!