Fabriques de Spiraux Réunies
Fabriques de Spiraux Réunies (SR) was a holding company and later corporation for production of springs, especially hairsprings, for watches. Formed in 1895, it was merged with rival Nivarox SA and sister companies, Fabriques d'Assortiments Réunies (FAR) and Fabriques de Balanciers Réunies (FBR) to become Nivarox-FAR in 1984.
Fabriques de Spiraux Réunies (SR) was one of the first examples of industry consolidation when, in 1895, it brought together five major producers of hairsprings into a single company. The initial members were Huguenin of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Baehni of Bienne, and Guye, Sandoz, and Dufaux of Geneva.
The force behind the formation of the SR was Charles-Edouard Guillaume, director of the International Office for Weights and Measures who won the Nobel Prize in 1920 for his discovery of self-compensating alloys including Elinvar. This material was brought to market by SR in the 1920s.
This concentration did not last long. By 1901, a rival firm was set up at the Montbrillant Watch Manufactory to distribute hairsprings from smaller firms, Société Suisse des Spiraux. Another major rival, Fabrique Nationale de Spiraux was also set up in La Chaux-de-Fonds, and numerous smaller firms joined the competition. Many of these would later be folded into SR as the industry continued to consolidate, especially after World War II. Guillaume's work was also the impetus for the creation of the Société des Spiraux Francais in 1919.
A major new rival to appear in the 1930s was Nivarox SA. Begun by Reinhard Straumann, inventor of the namesake material, Nivarox SA was set up in Saint-Imier to commercialize the alloy in 1934. It would grow to be a major competitor for SR through the war years.
By 1966, SR was affiliated with Fabrique National de Ressorts of La Chaux-de-Fonds, enabling the production of precision springs, wire drawing, lamination, and pre-assembly of complete hairspring assemblies. SR was producing hairsprings using their Isoval alloy, which boasted great thermal resistance and was nearly anti-magnetic.
During the ascendance of quartz, the industry no longer needed as many hairsprings. In 1984, long-time rivals Nivarox SA and SR were merged, creating the modern company Nivarox-FAR. This was the only producer of balance springs in Switzerland by 1990, but even this was not enough demand. To save the company, Nicolas Hayek directed Swatch to sell a mechanical watch. This would provide just enough sales to keep Nivarox-FAR in business.