This historic US military watch label has just been revived by microbrand MKII Watches, and their first watch just sold out in under an hour.
The TR-660 is 40mm bead-blasted stainless steel dive watch that uses the NE15C movement from Seiko. It’s got a lot of people excited and with the price at $949 USD, many are jumping at the chance to own one.
The watch comes with three options for straps. One in woven nylon, in rubber with a pin buckle, and NATO-style two-piece strap.
But why is this watch so sought after now? Well it’s because finding an original Tornek-Rayville is exceptionally difficult for collectors as there are only a few surviving.
This is due to the watch being made as a way to circumvent the “Buy American Act” that was in place during the 1960s which meant that the American military had to buy from American companies.
In 1962, the American military needed a strong dive watch for their Navy SEALs, but at the time, American watchmakers weren’t interested in the relatively small 1,000-unit order. This is when Allan Tornek saw an opportunity.
Tornek was the US distributor for the Rayville Watch Company of Swittzerland and made watches under the name of Blancpain. The 1,000-unit order was substantial for the company and they already had a hardy dive watch ready to go, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms.
So in order to get past legislation, Tornek modified the watches substantially and sold them to the military as American Tornek-Rayville watches. Only 1,000 were produced and there are apparently only 20 left in circulation as most were returned and disposed of.
Pre-orders are finished for now and will be delivered by the end of the year when the company will begin general orders for the watch.