Tragedy in Time: Fiqiri Tufina’s Watchmaking Legacy

    In the world of watchmaking there is one name that stands out throughout history resonating with a lasting impact that spans generations – Tufina. The story of Tufina’s watchmaking legacy begins with Ismail Tufina, a clockmaker whose tale intertwines with the soul of Tirana, the capital city of Albania. It was Ismail Tufina who meticulously crafted the mechanism that adorned the Clock Tower, a guardian of time that marked significant moments in Tiranas history from 1827 to 1916. However Ismail’s influence extended beyond the towers’ gears; he passed on his expertise to a lineage of clockmakers, a lineage that continued through his sons, grandsons and great grandsons.

    The origins

    The clock tower became a symbol of Tufina’s dedication to the artistry of watchmaking. Ismail’s descendants formed a group of artisans committed to precision and craftsmanship. This tradition was further strengthened during the half of the 20th century under the guidance and leadership of Arif Tufina. Arif and his sons, Haxhi and Shaban became renowned for their excellence as “The Tufina Brothers” (Vllazën Tufina). Their exceptional craftsmanship was recognized by having two wall clocks proudly displayed in the Albanian Prime Minister and President chambers both proudly bearing the name “Vllazën Tufina.” These incredible timepieces showcased Tufina’s mastery and expertise intertwining their history with the essence of Albania.

    Fiqiri Tufina.

    A dark era

    As time passed significant changes unfolded. A dictatorial communist regime took hold casting a shadow over the Tufina family and their watchmaking legacy. They faced harassment, arrests and heartbreaking tragedies, where the most unfortunate one is Fiqiri Tufina’s assassination. 

    Fiqiri, Bahri Tufina’s cousin, ventured into the world of watchmaking in both Albania and Italy. He had his own licensed business operating under the name “Fiqiri Tufina.” He managed his business independently and his shop was located on Via Regina street. A very well trusted watch shop at the time in Italy. He also sold his watches in downtown Tirana.  

    Fiqiri was best known for producing the “Fiqiri Tufina” watch, featuring a completely pure gold case in a white dial and a thin elegant 40s design for men. The watch’s box was inscribed with “Fiqiri Tufina – Tirana” and featured a yellow silk fabric. He would travel a lot between Italy and Tirana. His watches held tremendous value. One of his watches sold at auction in Italy in mid 2000s , where the price reached up to 10,000 euros.

    Vintage advertisement for Fiqiri Tufina’s timepieces.

    Fate dealt a cruel blow. In 1944 as communism rose to power in Albania. Fiqiri Tufina’s life was tragically cut short by Kajo Karafili — the assassin appointed by Enver Hoxha, the dictatorial leader of Albania at the time. The suffocating grip of communism saw trade, private businesses and personal possessions as threats leading to Fiqiri’s demise. 

    Following his death, the Tufina’s paid a substantial sum to prevent the murder from being classified as political, as the consequences for the rest of the family would have been even worse. Tragically, when Fiqiri passed away, he left behind a 7-year-old daughter who passed away a few months after her father. The Tufinas’ lives were profoundly shaken. The indelible mark left by Fiqiri’s assassination became a significant dark chapter in the chronicles of Tufina.

    Vintage packaging of Fiqiri Tufina’s watch.

    The Tufina family continued to face persecution with Bahri Tufina and others enduring arrests under the Extraordinary Law of Confiscations in 1948. However they managed to preserve their traditions across generations passing down knowledge from parents to children as a lifeline connecting the past to the present. As time went on, Tufina’s reputation spread beyond borders becoming a revered name in the world of watchmaking.

    Bahri Tufina at his watchmaking school at the Artisanal Factory, Tirana.

    German watchmaking

    The transformation of Tufina into a recognized German watch brand can be attributed to Enis Tufina, Bahri Tufina’s grandson. Enis was once a football player for KF Tirana but had to seek refuge in Germany during Albania’s oppressive dictatorship. He continued his football career abroad playing for clubs like VfL 93 Hamburg, VfL Pinneberg and VfR Neumünster. Unfortunately a serious knee injury put an end to his sports career. However, this change of events led him back to his family’s work in watchmaking.

    Enis Tufina playing football in Germany.

    In the aftermath of his injury Enis Tufina embarked on a journey to revive his family’s horological tradition. In 2004 he brought life into the legacy by establishing two German representative brands under the name of Tufina – Theorema and Pionier. Enis Tufinas deep connection to his heritage is reflected in the German watches that are meticulously crafted by hand, staying true to their customs and techniques. These high-quality watches are now available worldwide through their official online store.

    Made-in-Germany Tufina Pionier Dublin.

    Final Notes

    The captivating story of Tufina’s journey tells a narrative that spans centuries and continents. From Ismail to Fiqiri Tufina’s legacy to the collections launched under Enis Tufina’s guidance, the family’s commitment to precision artistry and resilience remains steadfast. The enduring legacy of Tufina continues to evolve like the gears within their timepieces marking the passing of time while leaving their own mark on watchmaking history.

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