Société Suisse des Spiraux

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Société Suisse des Spiraux (SSS) was a balance spring factory created in 1898 by major Swiss watch manufacturers to compete with the cartel known as Fabriques de Spiraux Réunies (FSR). The group succeeded in building a competitive factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds and producing springs for their own use, blunting the impact of the cartel. It was merged with FSR in 1955 and dissolved the following year.


When the five largest makers of balance springs in Switzerland came together as a cartel to control the market in 1895 it was met with much controversy. The Fabriques de Spiraux Réunies (FSR) announced that they would immediately double the price of springs and would not allow any competition between member factories. They also bought out (or forced out of business) all other spring makers so watchmakers were forced to buy from a single central depot in Neuchâtel.

Fanned by incendiary articles in La Fédération Horlogère, a group of watchmakers immediately coalesced with the idea of creating a competing spring factory. Meeting in La Chaux-de-Fonds on May 11, 1898, the group agreed to create their own competing balance spring factory. They also heard from Paul Perret, who announced the remarkable properties of Invar balance springs.

300 watchmakers contributed funding to the project, which ultimately raised 125,000 francs to start production of balance springs. On July 28, 1898, the Société Suisse des Spiraux (SSS) was officially organized at an assembly of watchmakers. The group elected Louis-Constant Girard-Gallet (1855-1945), son of Girard-Perregaux founder Constant Girard, as their first chairman. The first secretary was respected La Chaux-de-Fonds watchmaker Paul Ditisheim (1868-1945), best remembered today for the Solvil et Titus brand he later founded. Additionally, Louis Muller and Ernest Goering served as vice presidents and Edmond Picard as treasurer.

Member companies were


The organization was headquartered at Rue du Parc 8 in La Chaux-de-Fonds with a small factory established in the Montbrillant Watch Manufactory at Chemin de Montbrillant 1. Even at the first meeting the group decided to establish a second factory in Geneva, and the company boasted that both factories were operational by 1900. The La Chaux-de-Fonds operation was moved to Charrière 37, a small building used by various watchmakers for decades, on April 23, 1902, but this operation was closed by 1908. The Geneva factory, Rue Coulouvrenière 40, would remain the sold site of production for SSS and remained in operation through the dissolution of the company in 1955.

It appears that the La Chaux-de-Fonds operation was taken over by La Nationale-Spiraux, which was established by Alphonse Gogler in 1905. The SSS factory at Charrière 37 was taken over by La Nationale (later called Fabrique Nationale de Spiraux) by 1908 and the company continued operating in La Chaux-de-Fonds through the 1920s. In 1929 this former dissident was purchased by Fabriques de Spiraux Réunies and merged with Stella and W. Ruch & Cie.

Businessman Albert Bourquin-Jaccard (1860-1948) soon replaced Ditisheim as secretary, a position he held until his death in 1948. Although he was involved in watchmaking, Bourquin-Jaccard was more of an administrator and was owner of several buildings in La Chaux-de-Fonds as well as the local tramway.

La Chaux-de-Fonds businessman Emile Meyer (1859-1935) became the primary contact for SSS by 1905. He was named secretary in 1930 but died in August 1935, with Albert Bourquin-Jaccard resuming the position.