Werner Ruch

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Werner Ruch (1899-1952) was the namesake and founder of the spring maker W. Ruch & Cie of Saint-Imier.

Werner Ruch was born around 1899 in Mitloedi, but the Ruch family relocated to Saint-Imier before 1923. Ruch married Jacqueline née Guenat.

Together with his father Albert Ruch (son of Abraham Ruch), Werner Ruch founded a spiral spring factory in Saint-Imier on August 12, 1929. The company avoided competing with the balance spring cartel FSR and instead produced other types of spiral springs for other uses. His father, owner of a well-known trucking business in town, provided the capital and was moderately involved in the business. Albert Ruch was the sole owner of the Société Anonyme of the same name that purchased the partnership in 1931, though it is likely that this was a legal or financial formality since Werner Ruch was very much involved.

Albert Ruch died in December 1935 after a long illness, leaving his shares of the company to his son. Thus, the company was reorganized in January 1936, with Le Locle industrialist Georges Perrenoud (of Dixi and Zénith) joining the board (and likely investing). The firm was managed by Ruch along with accountant Georges Jacot and technical director Paul Pingeon.

Reinhard Straumann joined the board later in 1936 as ASUAG worked to transform Ruch into a domestic supplier of Nivarox balance springs. Straumann's Nivarox branch eclipsed Ruch's other activities and split off into a separate company in June 1937, taking Jacot, Pingeon, and Straumann himself along with half the share capital. Werner Ruch was left alone on the board of W. Ruch & Cie.

In 1944 the company was fully taken over by FSR, with Ernest Dubois becoming chairman and Gustave Ulrich and Louis Huguenin joining Ruch on the board. Following Ruch's death the company was moved to La Chaux-de-Fonds and more tightly integrated into FSR.

Werner Ruch died on January 5, 1952 in in Provence, France. Driving between Aix-en-Provence and Prets on a snowy road, Ruch lost control of his car and crashed into a truck. He died at the hospital. The other passengers in the vehicle, including his wife and two friends, Mr. and Mrs. Martinet from Geneva, were able to recover. By coincidence, Ruch died the same day as his collaborator Georges Perrenoud and two days before Gaston Schwarz, another influential personality in the industry whom he surely would have known.