The Tufina Family’s Persecution During a Dictatorship

In the expanse of history there exists stories that exemplify the unconquerable human spirit. The saga of the Tufina family, a name that echoes through the halls of watchmaking history is one remarkable tale. From the early 1800s and amidst the first half of the 1900s the Tufina name engraved its mark onto time itself. Today this enduring legacy reverberates within Albania’s corridors of power where two wall clocks proudly adorn the Prime Ministers and Presidential rooms each bearing the name “Vllazën Tufina” or “Tufina Brothers.” However, this story encompasses more than just watches; it is a testament of survival, resilience, and the birth of an esteemed watchmaking brand.

Screenshot 2023 11 02 at 3.25.26 PM

Real vintage photo of Tufina family members working on their timepieces.

A Glimpse into Glory Amidst Turmoil

The journey undertaken by Tufina since the early 1800s is one defined by excellence. While renowned for their expertise in crafting watches they also ventured into jewelry-making and eyeglass production. In the beginning of the 1900s, they formed partnerships with revered watch companies such as Longines, Eberhard, and Omega. Cementing their reputation as masters of their craft, the Tufina name not only graced timepieces, but also carried a rich legacy of artistic skill and precision.

Screenshot 2023 11 02 at 3.25.36 PM

1920s advertisement – Tufina (Vllazën Sh. & H. Tufina) and Omega partnership.

Unfortunately, the Tufina family was persecuted during the dictatorial regime in Albania (1994-1991). This oppressive regime witnessed the harassment, arrests and even murders of members of the Tufina family. Fiqiri Tufina, renowned for his watchmaking talent across Europe met a tragic fate in 1944 at the hands of Kajo Karafili, one of dictator’s Enver Hoxha assassins. As the communists came into power Tufina’s family possessions were seized as a trade off to spare their loved ones lives.

Fiqiri Tufina a great watchmaker in the early 40s killed by the communists

Fiqiri Tufina.

Bahri Tufina: A Symbol of Resilience

Bahri Tufina stood strong alongside his father Shaban Tufina and uncle Haxhi Tufina during the dictator’s merciless reign. In 1948 they found themselves imprisoned and subjected to torture for a year, under the Law of Extraordinary Confiscations. The horrors they experienced during this time have left imprints on their families collective memory; savage physical and psychological torment, threats involving innocent lives and an unyielding pursuit to confiscate assets that had already been taken away. The unwavering courage displayed by the Tufina family in the face of inhumane treatment serves as a shining example of resistance.

Screenshot 2023 11 02 at 3.25.48 PM

Bahri Tufina.

The regime’s actions extended to confiscating the family’s possessions – their homes, properties, stores, tools and cherished treasures such as children’s toys or silver silverware were all heartlessly taken away. All of their Napoleon gold coins, symbolizing their heritage, were seized one by one. Though Tufina’s properties were lost, their dedication to watchmaking endured through generations kept alive in secrecy. Despite the crumbling world around them they safeguarded their craft.

Screenshot 2023 11 02 at 3.25.53 PM

Syri Tufina.

Whispers of Time: The Art Lives On

Bahri Tufina along with his younger brother Syri Tufina, both prominent members of this family, continued their pursuit of watchmaking in the shadows after the closure of Tufina shops and banishment of private property. They passed down their knowledge to their sons and nephews, such as master watchmakers Alban Tufina and Blendi Tufina, ensuring the family’s legacy in watchmaking. The flame of their tradition flickered on relentlessly despite oppression attempting to extinguish it.

Screenshot 2023 11 02 at 3.25.58 PM

Enis Tufina playing football in Germany.

Enis Tufina’s Work in Germany

Enis Tufina’s story showcases the journey of Tufina Watches in modern times. Once he was a professional football player whose career was disrupted by a serious knee injury. The harsh communist treatment against his family forced him into seeking asylum in Germany right after the fall of the Berlin Wall. However, adversity builds strength and Enis embraced his family’s watchmaking heritage as a means to overcome challenges. He rebuilt his family’s watchmaking business in Germany.

In 2004, after a series of partnerships, Enis introduced Tufina’s representative German watch brands, Theorema and Pionier. Both brands are licensed with the German government. At first establishing their watchmaking operations in Pforzheim and later in Oberhaching near Munich. Today, these modern German timepieces, born from a rich historical background, can be found in homes all over the world through authorized online retail store tufinawatches.com. Each watch is hand-assembled in-house at the workshop of Enis Tufina. They are shipped directly from Munich to the customer.

Screenshot 2023 11 02 at 3.26.02 PM

Tufina’s watchmakers in their workshop in Oberhaching near Munich, Germany.

Final Thoughts

The Tufina family’s journey embodies the most impressive qualities of the human spirit – resilience, adaptability, and transcendence. From reaching the pinnacle of watchmaking excellence to enduring inhumane persecution, their story echoes the beat of time itself. As Tufina Watches grace wrists across the globe they not only carry a legacy of masterful craftsmanship but also a tale of survival, determination and an unbreakable human resolve.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.