Since Tornek-Rayville was originally created during the 1960s as a clever workaround to fulfill a contract for the United States Navy, the brand only produced small quantities of a single model before closing its doors and laying dormant for decades. However, in the years since being revived by Bill Yao of MK II watches, Tornek-Rayville has already brought two different models to market, and the company has just announced a third timepiece that will be joining its catalog for 2024. Representing an evolution of the MIL-W-46374F Type 6 SANDY 660 wristwatch from the 1990s, the new Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “BlakJak” builds upon the original Type 6 concept with several updates and enhancements. This creates a timepiece that would have been the preferred option for U.S. troops living in an alternate timeline, where Tornek-Rayville remained in operation and continued to supply timepieces to the United States Armed Forces.
The original MIL-W-46374F Type 6 SANDY 660 watch was produced by Stocker and Yale (commonly abbreviated “SANDY”) from approximately 1995 until 1998, although the new Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “BlakJak” is hardly an exact recreation of that original 1990s timepiece. Stocker and Yale closed its wristwatch division altogether by 2000, and development of the SANDY 660 concept ended before it could really be refined and realize its full potential. Part of what made the original model from the 1990s a standout among the military-issued watches of the era was that it represented a relatively premium offering. Instead of having a composite case with a standard nylon strap, the Stocker and Yale 660 was crafted from stainless steel, and it was one of the few military watches available with the option of a metal bracelet. Rather than being a recreation of the original Type 6 SANDY 660, the new Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “BlakJak” could best be described as the next generation of this mil-spec watch concept. It represents what this design might have ultimately become, had it been allowed to mature and evolve into the 2000s.
Despite having features such as a uni-directional rotating bezel and a screw-down crown, the Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “BlakJak” is not actually a dive watch, and it is instead designated as a “Class B (non-radioactive) self-winding dive capable field watch.” The concept behind the Type 7B was to create an ultra-rugged field watch with additional features that could also be used for scuba diving applications. While the example that appears throughout the images of this article is fitted with a standard 60-minute timing scale (just like what you would find on a dive watch), Tornek-Rayville also offers the Type 7B “BlakJak” with the option of a 12-hour bezel insert for those who prefer to have the flexibility of either tracking elapsed hours or a secondary timezone. With that in mind, both versions of the Type 7B feature a bezel ring that rotates with a 120-click uni-directional motion, and the 12-hour insert also includes small demarcations for the first 20 minutes, which allows it to maintain the “dive capable” part of the Type 7B concept.
Crafted from 316L stainless steel, the Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “BlakJak” offers what could best be described as a slightly more refined version of the classic Monnin case profile, with largely brushed surfaces and high-polished bevels running down either side of the watch. In terms of its dimensions, the case of the Type 7B “BlakJak” comes in at approximately 46mm when measured from 10 o’clock to 4 o’clock. However, because its wide lugs create somewhat of a cushion-shaped profile, the Type 7B ultimately wears closer to the size of its bezel, which measures 42.5mm in diameter at its widest point. The lugs on the Type 7B “BlakJak” are set 22mm apart and extend to create an overall lug-to-lug distance of 49mm, while the total height of the watch comes in at 13.2mm. Additionally, since the double-grooved bezel ring gently tapers outward to meet the top of the case, the upper edge of the bezel only has a diameter of approximately 40mm, and this further helps to shrink the perception of its size.
Unlike the original Type 6 SANDY 660 watch from the 1990s that featured a mineral glass crystal, the new Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “BlakJak” features a flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment applied only to its interior surface. Additionally, the bezel slightly sticks up above the crystal to offer further protection against scratches and impacts, while the top surface of the bezel gently slopes inward to meet the outer rim of the crystal. The bezel insert on the Type 7B is made from black DLC-coated stainless steel, and its scale is engraved into the surface of the material for superior durability and longevity. The reverse side of the Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “BlakJak” is closed up with a solid screw-down stainless steel caseback that is complete with all of the usual markings that you would expect on a military-style watch. An unsigned crown sits between two guards at 3 o’clock, and it screws down to the middle case with a triple-gasket system to help guarantee the model’s dive-capable 200 meters of water resistance.
The dial fitted to the Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “BlakJak” is very similar to what you will find on other mil-spec watches, and this is simply because it is the military specifications themselves that outline a significant portion of the core design. Featuring a matte black surface with crisp white markings and a matching set of white-finished syringe hands, the Type 7B “BlakJak” dial is very much in the style of a traditional military field watch. At the 3 o’clock location is a rectangular aperture that displays both the day and date. Rather than featuring the option of two different languages for the day of the week, though, the calendar disc has both days and Roman numerals, These numbers serve as an additional way to track elapsed time, for when it is more important to know how many days have passed than the specific day of the week. Just as you would expect from a field watch, large printed Arabic numerals are used for the hour markers, and a smaller secondary 24-hour scale is positioned along their interior to assist with reading the time in a 24-hour format.
Technically speaking, the Type 7B “BlakJak” dial isn’t completely sterile, although markings are small and kept to a minimum. There’s a no-radiation symbol at 10 o’clock to signify that the watch uses photo-reactive lume, a “7B” at 2 o’clock to denote the model and a tiny stamping of the Tornek-Rayville logo below the 6 o’clock maker. Rather than being printed on the flat surface of the dial, the minute track appears along a separate chapter ring that curves towards the hands to minimize the potential for parallax error when quickly reading the time. Additionally, similar to watches that use tritium tubes for their luminescence, the chapter ring on the Type 7B “BlakJak” has cut-outs located at the hour markers, although the luminous markings that reside within them are actually printed with thick applications of Super-LumiNova BGW9. Unlike tritium, Super-LumiNova requires light exposure to glow. However, since its ability to emit light is not determined by a radioactive half-life, it will not degrade over time, and Super-LumiNova BGW9 also appears on the hands and zero-marker of the bezel to provide the Type 7B “BlakJak” with a strong blue glow in the dark.
Unlike the original Type 6 SANDY 660 wristwatch from the 1990s that used a standard battery-operated quartz movement, the new Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “BlakJak” is powered by the Seiko Caliber NH36 automatic movement. This runs at a frequency of 21,600vph (3 Hz), with a power reserve of approximately 40 hours. Since the Cal. NH36 is the exact same movement as the Cal. 4R36 (just re-branded for use inside non-Seiko watches), the underlying design of this self-winding mechanical movement is one of the most commonly used within the entire modern watch industry. While the Seiko NH36 is the definition of an inauspicious mass-produced caliber, it is also a proven and highly reliable design, which means that owners of the Type 7B “BlakJak” will have zero problems keeping their watches running for the foreseeable future. Not only are replacement parts in ample supply, but an entire new Cal. NH36 movement can easily be sourced for a very reasonable cost, should significant repairs ever be required.
The Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “BlakJak” comes with a fairly comprehensive kit that consists of three different strap/bracelet options, a spring bar tool to facilitate swapping between them, and even two different types of spring bars, each one being better suited to one of the different included strap options. Given that one of the more unusual traits of the original Type 6 SANDY 660 was that it was made available with a bracelet, the Type 7B “BlakJak” also comes with a three-link stainless steel bracelet. However, Tornek-Rayville has updated its design with completely solid components, single-sided screws for the removable links, and integrated quick-release springbars for easily attaching them to the lugs. Tapering from 22mm at the case down to 18mm at the clasp, the bracelet feels quite solid. The clasp is undeniably a bit underwhelming by today’s standards, though, as it only features a friction-fit closure with an additional safety latch, and it doesn’t include any type of push-button release or integrated extension system (beyond four sizing holes to place the springbar of the last link).
As for the other two straps, the first is an Italian-made black rubber strap that tapers from 22mm at the lugs down to 20mm where it connects to its chunky tang-style buckle. Meanwhile, the final included option is a 22mm Maratac “Mil Series” one-piece black nylon strap that has a single stitched-in keeper and a black phosphate-coated stainless steel buckle. Since one of the updates that Tornek-Rayville incorporated into the design of the Type 7B “BlakJak” was to give its case drilled lug holes, both shouldered and shoulderless styles of springbars can be used, and a set of each is included with the watch. The mentality here is that the standard-shouldered springbars can be used with the rubber strap, while the shoulderless style can be used with the single-piece nylon strap to offer additional security for more strenuous activities. All things considered, while the clasp for the bracelet undeniably leaves a bit to be desired, I doubt too many people will find this to be much of a sticking point as both rubber and nylon straps are also included with the watch.
Military watches are a fundamental part of Tornek-Rayville’s DNA, but since the company originally only produced one model back in the 1960s, the modern brand that exists today isn’t able to just make vintage reissues of various designs from its archives. Creating an alternate timeline where everything is the exact same except the watches allows Tornek-Rayville to put itself back into different points of history as if it had stayed in operation throughout the years, and continued to remain a supplier of military timepieces. To help paint a more complete picture of this alternate timeline to buyers, Tornek-Rayville has produced a short pamphlet that comes with the watch, which details a world set in the early 2000s where U.S. active-duty members are deployed overseas and wearing Type 7B “BlakJak” watches. Not only does this alternate timeline approach afford Tornek-Rayville far greater creativity and flexibility with its designs, but it also allows the brand to go back in time and make the watches that it never actually had the opportunity to produce.
Overall, everything about the Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “BlakJak” feels incredibly solid, and it is obvious that quite a lot of thought and consideration went into both its concept and design. With an official retail price of 895 USD, the new Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “BlakJak” is hardly the least expensive way to get your hands on this rather ubiquitous Seiko caliber, although a reliable workhorse movement is an entirely appropriate choice for a rugged tool watch. Besides, what you are really paying for when buying any utilitarian three-handed timepiece of this nature is everything else beyond its internal movement anyway. Given that Tornek-Rayville never had the opportunity to properly exist as a company until its recent revival, it largely missed out on the golden era of the purpose-built analog timepiece, and I find it incredibly creative that the brand has decided to use an alternate timeline as the basis for its inspiration to place itself back into history as if it had simply continued to remain in operation throughout the years as a supplier of military watches. For more information on the Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “BlakJak” watch, please visit the brand’s website.