BINDINGS

1896 - 1962

JAKOBER, JOSEF (Glarus/Glarus)

Third ski factory in Switzerland, a saddler by trade who started making bindings for Melchior Jakober, his cousin.

He launched 1900 the model “Gotthard Soldat” sold besides to the Swiss armies, to those of Chile, Japan, Persia

and Russia. Later he offered among others the model “Helvetia”. Jakober changed his name to Jacober (may be

to disassociate from his cousin – or for the classic French sound). Later the firm was named “Jakober & Söhne”,

later to Jacober I.Ski & Faltbootfabrik. In 1903 the firm patented the "Balata" ski binding and some years later

offered the “Helvetia Touring”.

1904

DETHLEFFSEN, E. (Berne/Berne)

Patent CH 50084. The bindings have an opening in which, in addition to the jaws, each a movable thick wire,

which ends on both sides in a bracket; These are the straps that hold the shoes, moored. This avoids chafing

and breaking of the belts.

1905               

REIZEL, ERNST REINHARD (La Tour de Peilz/Vaud)  

Ernest Reinhard Reizel was likely the first binding without any leather strap for holding the shoe in the toe iron.

Instead, a steel element was screwed to the front bottom of the shoe and ultimately pulled into the toe irons by

means of a lever.

1905

WEBER, LEON, Dr. (Chêne-Bougeries, Geneva/GE)

Patent CH30024. On the outside of the steel irons there is a lever which can be pivoted and allows the

attached belts, which are placed behind the boots, to tension or relax. Initially, the lengths of the belts

are adjusted with a buckle. 

1906

HOUME, OLE (Geneva/Geneva)

Houme Ole binding consisted of a tension lever fixed on the ski and on both ends of the strap holding the

shoe. To maintain the strap in the favorable position, they passed through a part of the toe iron. In their ads,

the firm claimed that their binding was copied by several others. 

1907             

SESSELY, JULES (Geneva/Geneva)

Jules Sessely fabricated winter sports articles, among other a binding. It had automatic adjustable toe

irons with an interlocked spring in front, to which a flexible metal cable was attached to leather straps

around the back of the shoes. The binding allowed easy up and downwards movement of the shoes as well as removable

toe irons, this without any tool. Sessely also manufactured the Simplex binding, however invented by Leon Weber. As a particularity, its spanner located at the iron toe, activated the leather strap around the back of the shoes.

1909 

BEETSCHEN, EDUARD (Lenk/Bern)

Eduard Beetschen consisted of a hook screwed on the front bottom of the shoe which was engaged in a

tightening lever fixed to the skis.

1910

RUCHSER, GUSTAV (Oerlikon/Zürich)

Patent 48372 & 48373. So-called gear binding. On the outer side of the steel irons, a leather strap is attached

with at its end a pawl gear; with a skate key the attached metalic cable, placed around the heels of the goot

can be tightened or loosened. The toe irons have three pointed, locking bolts. With a lever these can be are

released or locked from the base plate.

1912  

BJORNSTAD, THORLEIF  or B.B.B. (Bjornstad Bindung Bern)  Thorleif Bjørnstad was a Norwegian skier of

some renown and with the sport of skiing becoming ever more popular at the birth of the 20th century the

Swiss decided they needed some lessons on the Scandinavian way of doing things. Consequently, Bjørnstad

and fellow Norwegian, Leif Berg, arrived in Switzerland in 1905 and by all accounts they were a huge success.

Bjornstad developed 1912 this binding (similar to the Beetschen) consisting of a hook screwed on the front

bottom of the shoe which was engaged in atightening lever fixed to the skis.

1917

LINDENMANN, ALFRED (Chur/Graubünden)

Patent CH77396. Binding with iron jaw and toe straps but without straps around the heel. It consists of two cables, connected

at the front to a tightener and at the back to partially bent sheets which grip the sole of the boot. When tightening, the boot is pressed against the iron jaw thus preventing it to slide neither to the side nor in the longitudinal direction of the ski.

1919

RUCHSER, E & MUNSTER (Zurich/Zurich)

Patent 85092. Long strap binding wherein the strap which is applied to the heel of the boot has a metal tightener at

one end. In the middle of the same belt, an eyelet is attached to which a strap with a metal tensioner is attached.

1923

ROSENBERGER, FERDINANT (Biel/Berne)

Patent CH103004 of the company IDRAET, Berne, which sold the bindings under the name B: B: B. (Björnstad Bindung Bern).

Before the steel iron is a lever fixed to the ski and there is a metal hook fixed on the front sole of the boot. With the lever,

the boot is pulled into the steel iron (the binding is similar to the Beetschen).

1924

ATTENHOFER, ADOLF   (Zumikon/Zurich)  

For over a generation the Attenhofer "ALPINA" were the least expensive and thus the most common bindings on

the market. It boasted adjustable, screwed on toe irons to which leather straps were attached to a tension lever.

                           

​1924

SCHIESS, ADOLF  (La Chaux-de-Fonds/Neuchatel)

Adolf Schiess covered common bindings but of 1925 made the first safety binding worldwide. Similar to the

Beetschen, it had a Hook screwed on the front bottom of the shoes, steel rods attached to the toe irons for

fixing the shoes and buts in front. These allowed the shoes to move upward and to disengage from the toe

irons. The binding sold by AS Geneva for Swiss francs 25 claiming 16 advantages including a five year guarantee.

The Schiess binding never appeared in the U.S. (the first modern release binding was the U.S. Hjalmar Hvam’s

Saf-Ski in 1939).

1924

BACHTOLD & CIE (Davos-Dorf/Graubünden)

Patent CH113186. The skis have an opening in which the lower parts of the steel irons are located. These have

tooth which allow them to adjust to the boots. The irons are held in place by a wedge.Attached to the front of

the boot is a hook whose counterpart is on one side attached to a leather strap, on the other side to a lever

screwed on the ski. Latter allows the boot to be pulled into the iron.

1927

HESPI (Ruti/Zurich)

Manufactured by Trox Hesco which still exists today specializing in air conditioning, ventilation etc. The

bindings were mainly made for the export markets (USA, Canada, Scandinavia & Austria). The company also

manufactured ski tip spreaders. They stopped the production of ski products in 1959 when they diversified

to ventilation systems.

1927

KOLARIK, ANTON (Bern/Bern)

Anton Kolarik had a heel strap attached to a steel blade under the shoe, latter connected to a tension

lever screwed on the ski in front of the toe iron. The lever, incorporating a spring, permitted to push the

shoe into the toe iron.                         

​1927

KANDAHAR - REUGE, GUIDO & HENRY (Ste-Croix/Vaud)

Guido and Henry Reuge (grandsons of the founder of the music box manufacturer in Ste-Croix in the Jura

Mountain range-still in business today), both passionate skiers and racers, developed in 1927 a prototype binding.

Guido, a mechanical engineer at the Swiss Technological Institute (ETH) and early member of the Swiss Academic

Ski Club (SAS), patented in 1932 the first binding really fit for downhill & slalom, “Telemark”, touring, cross-county,

and jumping.

192? 

An interesting binding, name unknown, but stamped “Village de Ste Croix” (the same place the Kandahar was produced) had two levers: in a sort of toe iron, the other to either lock or unlock the heel, thus for slalom and downhill or for walking, cross-country, jumping, “Telemark” or touring.

1929

AMSTUTZ, WALTER (St. Moritz/Graubünden)

Amstutz was a skier and alpinism pioneer with several first ascents. With Arnold Lunn, he was the initiator of

modern alpine skiing races. In 1924 he was co-founder of the Swiss Academic Ski Club and the first editor of

the Jahrbuch Der Schneehase (1926). Amstutz was the first tourism director of St. Moritz (1929-1938) and the

creator of the well-known sun logo. In 1929 he invented the Amstutz spring, stick and ski. The spring was

attached to the skis behind the boots and to the upper part of the boots to give a certain halt for the modern

“Vorlage Ski Technique” (meaning forward ski technique, in which the skier leans forward from his ankles)

1930

SCHULER, FRANZ (Chur/Grisons)

Patent CH138628. Binding with two leather belts attached to a tightener with on their end of a metal suspension links are mounted, each having a right-angled bent hooks and lying under the shoe sole between the ski boots coming jaw lobes and at the front end having an upwardly bent hackles, by means of which they can be put on and off at the ski jacks.

1930's  

Several bindings came up in the 30s with tension levers at the back: The Hespi was similar to the Alpina, but with a serpentine

spring at the back. The Bernina had small diameter spring cables instead of leather straps and the front part of the cable could

be locked in a horizontal or inclined position for either walking or descent. The Universal allowed even three positions to set

desired inclination. The Thorens consisted of serpentine springs at the back, attached to leather straps to the toe iron. Thorens

also made skis, was however better known for their musical boxes, clock movements, Edison phonographs, electric record

player and high end audiophile. Ulrich Schär received in 1931 the patent CH147837 for a binding whose front end of the heal binding straps could be replaced as they were held by screws rather than permanent rivets.

1931

ODERMATT, JOSEF (Zurich/Zurich)

Patent CH168935. Metal binding with cables from the steel irons to the tightener, a curved pipe section with

a compression spring in it. The invention sought to remedy the shortcomings of those bindings which had a

tension spring as a heel part. The spring often did not withstand the stresses.

1933

SKISSA, Fabrique de Cannes et Skis S. A., (Lausanne/Vaud)

Patent CH255126 of Max Hauswirth. The binding was commercialized under the name of « Skissa » (Fabrique

de Cannes et de Skis S. A.). The binding has steel irons with a spring on the inside; with a screw, the front part

of theboot can be exactly adjusted. The company also sold "SKISSA-KALT" steel or brass edges.

1934 

H. STAUB & CO. (Zurich/Zurich)

Staub invented a binding without toe iron. A forked clamp in front which when passed home pushes upon a

stud on the ski and a special plate fixed to the toe of the boot, gripping them together.

1938

BELMAG  (Zurich/Zurich)

​The Belmag of 1938 had two parallel serpentine in front and became the main competitor of the Kandahar. It had

the advantage that there was no friction of the serpentine springs. In 1943, Belmag replaced the two springs by one

located under the tightening lever.

1940(s) 

LABRADOR (Ste Croix/Vaud)

Adrien Lador, brought in the 40s the Labrador on the market, a binding similar to the Kandahar but without springs.

They offered the Lux, the Sport, the Junior and the Kinder. Possibly, because of its simplicity, it equipped the skis of

the Swiss Army. The tension lever of some models pulls to the front, of others to the back. Labrador, Kandahar and

Thorens were all made in the small village of  Ste Croix of the Jura Mountain range in the 30s.

1942 

LANZ  (Montreux/Vaud)

Dr. med. Lanz patented the safety binding. The toe iron was able to pivot horizontally over a ground plate when a certain

resistance was exceeded. Latter could be adjusted.

1950 – 1980

GERTSCH (Wengen/Bern - today Steffisburg/Bern)

Ulo Gertsch, the son of the Lauberhorn races initiator, patented between 1950 and 1980 a dozen quick-

release binding some already with incorporated ski stopper. The Gertsch family starting selling the binding

at home in 1967. At one time, Gertsch covered almost half of the plate binding market, with the G70 being their

top model. Out of 25 models, the German’s Foundation of Product Testing rated the Gertsch safety binding as best.

From 1966 on, Gertsch developed prototype and began selling release plate bindings in 1967. The bindings were

made by Fritschi, who later bought the patents and the distribution rights from Gertsch. Today, Ulo Gertsch

is CEO of INVENTRA, an innovative development company in snow and water sport products.

1965 

ZIMBA (Basel/Basel)

Werner Zimmerman a former Swiss ski racer patented a safety head in 1965 which he named Zimba (Zim for

Zimmermann and Ba for Basel, his hometown). It consisted of a central pivot pin fixed on the base plate. Two

additional pivoting pins, interlocked in the slug irons held the boot; in case of a fall, they moved in counter-

direction. Insufficiently robust, the Zimba lasted only a few years on the market.

1960 -  Present 

FRITSCHI  (Reichenbach/Bern)

Albert Fritschi opened an engineering shop in 1960 in Reichenbach, close to Interlaken. As of 1966 he manufactured

bindings for Gertsch and acquired in 1979 the patents and the distribution rights. In 1977 Fritschi launched their first

plate model for alpine touring. His sons Andreas and Christian, developed the Company to become today the market

leader of ski tour and free ride bindings, with a walking function.

1967 – 1980

SU-MATIC (Lupfig / Aargau)

In 1967, the Su-Matic allowed a downhill and a touring mode. It was good in the downhill mode, but with only 1½”

heel lift, had a limited in ascent. As a complex piston/spring binding, it was rather heavy and as sales lacked,

abandoned in the 80s.

1916 - Present 

TOKO  (Altstätten/St. Gallen)

Toko, better known for their waxes, launched in 1972 the worldwide first magnetic safety binding for alpine skiers.

While the front part was fixed, the rear part (heel automat) was maintained to the ground plate, latter consisting of

a strong magnet. Under an adjustable load, the magnet would pull off. In practice, there were false triggers, and as

TOKO could not remedy, they took it off from their sales program.

Our information for the following Swiss Ski binding manufacturers are limited or nonexistent.  Please help us out if you can by sending an email to info@swissskimuseum.com

·         RIVAL (1930's?)  Dates unknown – Origin unknown

·         MOBIL (1930's?)  Dates unknown – Origin unknown

We are grateful to Mr. J.Hess for the use of several photos from his book "Ski Bindings in the Course of Time" (See our "News" section for further information).

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© 2017 by Pierre Schneider