For Manhattan Beach Watch Repair + Vintage Watches owner, Victor Kartounian, watchmaking is in his blood.
“I come from a watchmaking family,” Kartounian said. “My grandfather, my dad, my uncles, my cousins, my brothers, everybody in the family’s a watchmaker.”
Kartounian’s aunt gave him his first watch when he was 5 years old. It broke within two days, and he was devastated. However, this broken watch started his love for watches.
“I started collecting and actually destroying watches at the age of 11 and 12. Finally, I started working for my dad at 13. I started doing minor watch repair,” Kartounian said. “I moved up into basically cleaning, overhaul, disassembling, reassembling, adjusting and regulating watches at 17 years old.”
Kartounian went on to work for his five uncles in various watch shops, from Pasadena to Santa Monica. Then, Kartounian opened Tic Time at the South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach in 1996 while he attended Cal State Long Beach, where he earned a bachelor's in sociology. Six years later, Kartounian decided to give the store to his brother, Sam, and he opened Redondo Beach Watch Company also in the Galleria.
“In 2008, when the recession hit in the South Bay, our store took a big hit because we are a luxury store. I also saw the market dwindle because of the internet,” Kartounian said.
Kartounian gave Redondo Beach Watch Company to his brother, Sam, and father, Peter, in 2012. When thinking about opening another business, he decided he wanted something smaller than his previous 1,200 square foot store in the Galleria. Something he could manage himself without employees if necessary.
"After 20 years of wearing suits and ties, I got tired of being in a corporate-style business, and I wanted to do something different, something boutique," Kartounian said.
When searching for a smaller, boutique-like shop, he came across a space for lease in Manhattan Beach on the corner of Highland Avenue and 13th Street. He opened the store in the front of the building in 2012, but last year he moved the shop to the back of the building when he had the opportunity to buy the location.
As the sole proprietor, Kartounian does everything from minor watch repairs to window cleaning. To help him focus more on his customers, Kartounian has four on-call watch repairmen for larger watch repairs.
“We are very local. We are very grassroots. We don’t sell anything online. You cannot call me and buy a watch through the telephone,” Kartounian said. “I don’t want to sell online. I don't want to sell on different venues. I want my clients to come into my store.”
In the store, you’ll find a variety of brands, such as Rolex, Omega and vintage Bulova watches. All the watches are secondhand, vintage and collectible timepieces. When asked why he only sells vintage watches, Kartounian explained that he thinks the quality of older watches is higher quality than those made today.
Kartounian said his watch shop is more than just a business.
“This is what keeps me going. I’m almost like a kid in a toy store. Watches, to me, are not only works of art, but they’re toys that we wind and play with every day,” Kartounian said.