1896 – 1962
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”.
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.
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.
Dr. Leon Weber
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.
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.
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.
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 boot 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.
Bjornstad Thorleif / B.B.B.
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.
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.
Ruhser E & Munster
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.
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).
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.
La Chaux-de-Fonds, Neuchâtel
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).
Bachtold & Cie
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.
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.
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.
Kandahar – Reuge, Guido & Henry
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.
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)
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.
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.
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 the boot can be exactly adjusted. The company also sold "SKISSA-KALT" steel or brass edges.
H. Staub & Co.
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.
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.
Sainte 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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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 is limited for the following Swiss ski binding manufacturers.
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