Tornek-Rayville Is Reviving an Obscure, Sub-$1K Military Watch

The Type 7B "Blakjak" picks up where the MIL-W-46374F Type 6 SANDY 660 left off

February 6, 2024 12:45 pm
Type 7B "Blakjak," a modern take on the MIL-W-46374F Type 6 SANDY 660 from the late 1990s with a steel bracelet and a black bracelet
Type 7B "Blakjak," a modern take on the MIL-W-46374F Type 6 SANDY 660 from the late 1990s
Hunter Kelley/Tornek-Rayville

Fans of vintage American military watches — nay, of military timepieces in general — will no doubt be aware of Bill Yao and his Mk II Watches. Presaging the birth of the “microbrand” watch movement of small, independent companies, Yao worked tirelessly to develop modern, up-specced versions of classic pieces that were never designed for civilian consumption. Due to his passion, his humble personality and his excellent, well-built products, Mk II has expanded its operations, incorporating a new division in the form of Tornek-Rayville.

Originally spun up to reissue the famed Tornek-Rayville dive watch made for American frogmen in the mid-20th century, TR has since overseen the production of Yao’s Paradive diver as well (itself an update to the Benrus Type I and Type II military divers). Now, the story of these relatively obscure American mil-spec pieces continues in the form of the new Type 7B “Blakjak,” a modern take on the MIL-W-46374F Type 6 SANDY 660 from the late 1990s.

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Published in October of 1991, MIL-W-46374F military watch specification wasn’t fundamentally different than the previous MIL-W-46374E in its first five iterations — Type 6, however, called for a quartz-powered watch with a 12-hour bezel; a hacking movement; resistance to low-pressure environments (above 35K feet) for at least 60 minutes; high magnetic resistance over 125±1 gauss; and “salt fog” protection. Several timepieces conforming to this spec were produced by various companies, but the Stocker and Yale (“SandY”) P660 MIL-W-46374F Type 6, with its stainless steel construction and tritium tubes, is among the most desirable.

The late 1990s, just ahead of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, represents the end of widespread mil-spec watch requisitioning on the part of the U.S. government. Indeed, while the DoD ordered over 67,000 watches in a single day in December of 1990, it ordered less than 15,000 pieces in total between May of 1999 and January of 2002. Though an updated spec, MIL-PRF-46374G, was published in November 1999, the days of dedicated watch tenders being fulfilled by multiple watch companies at the behest of the U.S. government are largely behind us. (Marathon, it should be noted, still produced mil-spec watches, much as it’s done since 1941 — though its business has since expanded to include civilian sales.)

The Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “Blakjak” imagines a sort of continuation of the MIL-W-46374F Type 6, as if Stocker & Yale (or perhaps another company) had produced a next-gen version that saw service during Operations Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. To that end, Yao partnered with Steve Laughlin of Raven Watches/Finch Knife Co and took up the horological mantle where SandY left off in 1999: The new watch thus features automatic winding; 200m of water resistance; and drilled lugs for easy strap changes. 

The tall, engraved bezel, meanwhile, includes a DLC-coated, stainless steel inlay that curves inward and rotates unidirectionally through 120 clicks. (Both 12-hour and 60-minute versions are available — another thoughtful touch.) Meanwhile, tritium tubes have been replaced with longer-lasting SuperLumiNova BGW9 luminous material, and a new day-date complication provides both conventional days and Roman numeral indications, the latter being more helpful when the wearer wishes to know how many days have elapsed since a particular event. The dial’s chapter ring curves inward to minimize parallax reflection, while the syringe handset has plenty of space for lume, improving visibility in low-light situations. 

Satin-finished and mirror-polished, the 42.5mm stainless steel case has been redesigned from that of the SANDY 660 to improve visual balance, while a matching steel bracelet with solid end-links is can easily be swapped out for an included 22mm rubber dive strap, or a 22mm Maratac “Mil” Series black nylon pass-through strap with ultrasonically drilled holes. Powering the watch is the Japanese-made Seiko NH36 automatic movement with hacking and manual winding which has been timed to three positions. 

Priced at $895 (plus shipping and handling), one receives a package comparable in spec to the Marathon Steel Navigator, a truly excellent watch in its own right ($770-$950 depending on configuration); the Benrus Type II reissue, meanwhile, is nearly twice the price at $1,495. Having used a previous generation of the Paradive as well as the Steel Navigator in the military, I can heartily recommend both companies’ products. (I’ve also used the Benrus Type I reissue, but while the case is well made and robust, the dial is so poorly lumed as to be all but useless in the field. If Benrus were to fix this, it would prove an excellent field watch — though I digress.) 

For those who enjoy the look and feel of these specialty-built, distinctly American mil-spec watches from the mid-20th century, it’s easy to recommend Yao’s latest creation. His attention to detail has created a significant number of admirers in the military watch space — this writer among them. 

Type 7B "Blakjak" in black
Type 7B “Blakjak”
Hunter Kelley/Tornek-Rayville
  • Diameter: 42.5mm
  • Movement: Seiko NH36 automatic
  • Water Resistance: 200m
  • Special Features: 12-hour or 60-minute bezel; dual-function day window
  • Price: $895+

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