Early one morning I take the train from Barcelona. I’m on my way to Sabadell. It is not a completely normal sightseeing, because I am going on a company visit. I get off at one stop before the train arrives at the terminus about half an hour from the busy metropolis. The contrast could hardly have been greater. I walk through a sleepy suburb with brick houses and old factory chimneys. I know I am near when I pass several garages, car rental companies, and by a large parking lot is no. 10 where I can not find the company name and entrance until I have asked the workers in a car repair shop. It’s like in a romantic fantasy about the old days: I had to ask the locals for where to go.
It’s almost like I’m the first tourist here. And what does Sabadell have to brag about? They have a bank, I know. And I have been told that it has been one of Spain’s most important cities for the wool and textile industry. I have an agreement with Arnau Palomero, who has the title “commercial designer” in Pulltap’s. Arnau says that one of the most important industries in the city has been metallurgy and products associated with the automotive industry. A piece fell into place! Well, to say that Sabadell is known for making one of the world’s most popular corkscrews would be an exaggeration. But still: I’m here to find out a little more about Pulltap’s wine opener and what was the reason that it appeared exactly here.
A bust and a photograph of Ramón Brucart Puig are displayed in Palomero’s office. Brucart, born 14 October 1937, is the only important figure in Pulltap’s pamphlet on the company and its history. But there is not much information to be found about him, and a search on the internet gives far more hits on his namesake, the motocross rider. Arnau Palomero shows me the first corkscrew for which Brucart was granted a patent in 1991. This was mentioned in the special magazine The Daily Screw in 1991 and called Pocket Hand Corkscrew. A year earlier, he had received a European patent for a similar wine opener called Puigpull. His company was then called Puig Bonich, which he ran together with his wife Marta Bonich Linares.
Pulltap’s was founded in 1996, here in Sabadell, a city of just over 200,000 inhabitants in the province of Barcelona. The company came about after Ramón Brucart contacted the Alberich and Vilarrubí families. These had previously, in 1963, founded the metallurgical company TADE-Talleres Auxiliares de Estampaciones, which is headquartered in Sabadell. Pulltap’s then became part of the TADE company, until Pulltap’s grew as a company and became independent.
Pulltap’s in the tradition
There are a number of corkscrews on the market. We read that the first simple corkscrews may have been derived from the tools used to remove gunpowder sludge from weapons in the 17th century, including those with a metal spiral. Due to the large force required to pull a cork out of a bottle, many mechanical corkscrews have been made that use the so-called lever principle. Variants of this are models such asthe waiter’s friend, the Screwpull, the butterfly and the winged owl corkscrew (also of Spanish origin). Pulltap’s fit into this tradition.
When Pulltap’s wine opener has in a relatively short time become an established classic for both professionals in the wine industry and among private individuals, it is not without reason. It is made of quality materials and has a design that takes good care of aesthetics and ergonomics. With Pulltap’s, waiters all over the world know that they can pull out a cork while standing at the table, with one hand on the neck of the bottle and the other operating the corkscrew. The double joint makes the opening of a bottle an effortless process, where the force only acts in one direction. With many other wine openers, the cork is pulled against the neck of the bottle, with the risk of the cork breaking.
The original model is today called Classic. The company found that it was necessary for most people to use both hands. A newer addition is a sliding knife blade that is pulled out with just one hand. This patented model is called Slider. Variants of this model are called Slider Boss and Samurai. Pulltap’s also produces corkscrew models for left-handers, with the spiral symmetrically opposite to the regular one.
Both the handle and the lever for the Classic and Slider models are made of stainless steel. The handle is lacquered and the lever nickel-plated, to achieve a protective effect and prevent rust. Slider Boss is made of aluminum with a stainless steel lever. The handle can be made in many different colors and finishes and can also have inlaid hardwood. Included are a teflon-coated spiral worm, a knife blade and a beer or soda bottle opener.
The entire production process takes place in the country, in the Barcelona area, with the exception of the spiral produced in France. It is a work that is mostly manual, and very slow, when printing logos and names on a form that is so complex. Arnau says that he himself has participated in this work this past week.
Imitations have been a big problem for Pulltap’s, and they have two shelves where they display only some of all the imitations made in other countries, such as China. Arnau holds two seemingly identical wine openers next to each other. The devil is in the details, they say. Maybe it will not be more true than here. The copy from Argentina has a 30% smaller metal original, it has a finish of chrome instead of nickel – and it seems more flimsy.
At most, Pulltap’s made 4 million wine openers annually. But due to the many imitations, they are now down to 1-2 million. They would rather use energy to further develop their own product than to try to fight the imitations. They have introduced the brand name Pulltap’s Genuine, that is engraved onto all openers. And since 2014, all genuine Pulltap’s products have come with a P engraved next to the brand name.
Pulltex is a distributor for Pulltap’s products in Europe and America. It is a large company headquartered in the Llobregat area, closer to Barcelona airport, which produces and distributes wine accessories. But they also make wine openers, and for the sake of confusion some come with the name Pulltap’s. They want to be associated with Pulltap’s, so they have taken a name that is close. Palomero nevertheless points out that the relationship with Pulltex is obviously good.
Ramón Brucart is still alive, and he is approaching 85 years of age. Arnau says that he has good contact with the company, which still has the character of a family business. But it’s time to go, as I have an appointment in Barcelona in the evening. So this time it is not time to contact the inventor himself. I imagine he could have had interesting stories to tell. But it will be next time.