Portescap

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Portescap was the common name for Le Porte-Echappement Universel SA, the maker of Incabloc, Triovis, Vibrograf and other watch-related devices. Today, Portescap SA continues as a maker of miniature electric motors while Incabloc SA, a separate company, continues in the watchmaking field.

History

Founded in 1931 as Le Porte-Echappement Universel SA, Portescap introduced the famous Incabloc shock protection system in 1933. The company was founded by Georges Braunschweig and Fritz Marti, owner and manager, respectively, of the Election watch company. The system used cone-shaped jewel and distinctive lyre-shaped spring embedded in an easy to apply chaton. The system was extremely successful, and Portescap encouraged or required companies to use the Incabloc name widely, including adding it to the dial of watches so equipped. In 1938, the double-cone shock protection system was introduced, which remains dominant today.

In just 15 years, it came so synonymous with anti-shock devices that the company was forced to take aggressive legal action against competitors and counterfeiters. Competing systems, notably KIF from Parechoc, were eventually able to offer similar performance without the advertising and dial labeling requirements. Portescap also produced testing equipment throughout the 1950s under the Vibrograf brand. With high-beat watches appearing, Portescap introduced the Triovis fine regulator in 1968.

By 1970, Portescap was the largest employer in La Chaux-de-Fonds but had diversified into the production of electric motors and linear actuators. These would find use throughout the Swiss quartz watch market, making Portescap as important to high-end quartz movements as it had been to mechanical movements.

Portescap introduced a lower-priced alternative in 1974, Antichoc 2000. This used a synthetic material as both bushing and anti-shock membrane, replacing the cone jewel entirely. A later addition was Novodiac, a lower-priced jewel-set shock absorber with a three-leaf clover look reminiscent of KIF Trior.

In 1987, Portescap divested the watch testing market to Greiner, and the company divested Incabloc and other watch shock absorber technologies the following year. Incabloc SA, founded in 1988, received the equipment and some staff and began a new era of production in La Chaux-de-Fonds. In 2003, Incabloc became entirely independent of Portescap, which continued to focus on DC motors.

See Also