Our tradition to watch and jewelry trade haunts among the long-lasting trade history of our family. By the 19th century, during the Ottoman Empire, our family business seat was in Krystallopigi (Smardesion) a small town and very important mountain passage on the ancient trade way, between the West coast of Adriatica and Constantinoupoli. Our great grandfathers and several members of the family owned a network of Inns, warehouses and trade shops dealing with alcohol, agricultural and colonial products, which covered a significant distance of more than 100 km starting from the valley of Florina up to the city Koritsa (today city of Korce - in Albania).
Only by oral family tradition we know that our great grandfather, Panagiotis L. Karantzias, an entrepreneur of the 19th century decided to involve a watch trade and repair dept. at the family’s trade business. He chose his younger son Lazaros P. Karantzas to learn the craft of watchmaking and sent to him to Kastoria at the shop of an experienced professional in watch dealing and repairing.
By 1897 our grandfather returned at the family’s shop in Smardesion (Kristalopigi) and established a small corner at the trade shop dealing with watches. At that crucial time the Greek struggle for liberation of Macedonia from the ottomans and the Greek-Bulgarian conflict meant to seal the further route of our business. By the 8th of May 1903 an extended Ottoman military cleansing operation at the territory, led to a big massacre with more than 120 victims and the demolition to the most of the houses by cannons and fire. Panagiotis Karantzias– member of the Greek Council of Elders – was one of the victims among other members of the family.
War great father of all, give birth to big decision, the two brothers Vasilleios and Lazaros, who survived the massacre, decided not to repair or establish any further enterprise at the destroyed town not even their family home. They moved to the town of Florina at their small dept. shop and start control of the business from there. In that shop, at the corner of Naousis and M. Alexandrou str, a new watch and jewelry and trade repairing corner was set.
The day of liberation found the family in that place, with blooming business in several trade fields. By the year 1914 the first official license as a watchmaker was given to our grandfather by the Greek state. Moreover, licenses concerning Alcohol trade, Food and Agricultural trade, Inn License and Animal trade License supported the rest family’s trade fields. By the year 1921 a new three stories building erection started at the place of the old shops after buying two more land-plots nearby. The brand-new Inn and its five shops room was an architectural site of that time (still is an architectural listed building) in Florina. One of these shops hosted our first independent watch and jewel repairing and trade business.
Lazaros Karantzas mastered his craft and hand over his knowledge to his son Christos (Takis) Karantzas who enter the business as soon as he finished the primary school. By the early 40’s, Christos Karantzas already run the shop, together with his father Lazaros P. Karantzas, although that he was barely twenty years old. The war led to a full stop to all the family business, besides the light and versatile craft of watch trade and repairing stayed still and alive. At that time Nikolaos Markuly (1st cousin) came to master his skill at the shop and worked together with Christos Karantzas till the late forties. Then he immigrated to Saint Louis, Illinois, where he established a successful watch and jewelry shop and official Bulova Service Center for the State of Illinoi until the late eighties.
During the late years of the civil war the shop moved to Karavitis square, this move gave new momentum to business and set back all the control and access problems concerning the old building at Naousis corner. As the years passed by, the market heart moved further to the northeast side of the city. A new jewelry shop was established at the corner of Fouledaki and M. Alexandrou Street which worked together with the old shop for some years, till the late fifties that old shop was closed.
The younger brother Nikolaos Karantzas enter the family business at that time, as he finished his studies at Athens, and assisted the shop with his knowledge, strength and new ideas. It was the first time to present the golden lighthouse as landmark to our business. The evolution and growth of the Greek economy during the sixties, led to a big volume of foreign visitors in our town. That meant blooming sales, to clients mainly from Yugoslavia and other economically handicap neighbor nations.
The pace of the market together with the excellent, restless and unique business talent gave momentum to an innovative idea for that time. In cooperation with Isomax movement factory and CUPILLARD RIEME PARIS - Morteau watch factory the production of the watch brand Karanzas was real. A nice collection of more than 35 different models. The collection included simple second, date, day-date, separate second dial and 45 min. chronograph. The production continued for almost a decade and all distribution was directed to retail by the shop for many more years.
During the early seventies’ reconstruction was at his peak, new architecture boosts and trends introduced big, luxury and comfortable shops. The jewelry shop moved once again to a newfangled, big commercial property (120 m2) at the corner of M. Alexandrou and Ioannikeiou Street. The big variety of jewelry and watches products, the elite style, the innovative internal design and the excellent service and marketing all mastered in that shop sealed our business profile for the upcoming years.
In 1989 the commercial chamber of the prefecture of Florina awarded Nikolaos Karantzas for his successful carrier and his contribute to the progress of the local commerce.
During the last years of the nineties Lazaros N. Karantzas was the new blood to take over the business and carry the heavy family tradition. As soon as he finished his studies as an economist, he was in charge of the small boutique shop. New co operations and new products entered the shop. Among the rest of his business he started the planning for a new modern watch and jewelry shop, at the private plot nearby. The construction of the new building started by the March of 2007. The new (140 m2) shop opened in November, consisting of five different main sections gems, watches, repairing workshop for watches and jewels, gold and silver jewelry and brand name bijoux with a completely new product-mix. Among the old time tested agents new co operations were established to support one of the biggest jewelry shops established in Macedonia.
Several visits to the biggest watch and jewelry fairs across Greece and Europe featured the new style and marketing policy of the shop. During 2008 Bassel fair a new prosperous cooperation with Seculus International was established. After almost 40 years the shop started once again direct import by International Switzerland Brands and made the first steps as watch brand agent in Greece. A completely new field gave new ideas and knowledge to the marketing of the shop and the retail sales, as much as the wholesale.
In 2009 the second Swiss Brand Jowissa S.A. followed to support the collection mostly in women models. By 2010 a low-cost interchangeable watch named TWIST presented by Seculus Brazil was imported, the first wholesale network was constructed with this product. A complete agency system, with stock, office, orders management and service support all-around Greece, was completed and more than 40 selling points.