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  • Manufacturer: Tornek-Rayville
    Year: Circa 1966
    Reference No: TR-900
    Model Name: Tornek-Rayville U.S.
    Material: Sandblasted steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. AS 1361, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: NATO
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel
    Dimensions: 41mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by an analysis report made by Blancpain Heritage Department

  • Catalogue Essay

    In the early 1950s, Bob Maloubier, co-founder of the French Navy's Combat Diver corps was looking for a professional dive watch for his elite troops. In this quest, he analyzed many watches available on the market but could not find one that exactly met his requirements. He, consequently decided to create one that would comply with all the military specifications for underwater missions.

    His next quest would be to find a manufacture that would accept to bring this project to life. He found in Mr Jean-Jacques Fiechter, Blancpain CEO at the time, and recreational diver, a perfect partner to produce this watch.

    Used by the French army, the Fifty Fathoms would soon be noticed by armies around the world. When the US Army was looking for a dive watch for its troops, Blancpain knew they had the right tool but the “Buy American Act” would not allow the brand to offer its Swiss made watch. A fortunate collaboration with a New York based diamond dealer by the name of Alan Tornek allowed the Fifty Fathoms to go under sufficient manufacturing processes in the US to be considered an American product.

    Despite passing the technical tests, the model was considered too expensive and in 1964, the US government did not renew its order and production was abandoned.

    A few years later, Alan Tornek made a new offer to the US Navy with a new batch. Cautiously, Tornek Rayville (Blancpain’s American subsidiary) only delivered a very small amount of this order which proved to be a safe bet as the US Navy rejected the project due to its cost. Most of the TR900s were destroyed by the United States government and a few that were not issued, were sold, like the present example, to civilians. The extremely good condition of this watch tends to prove that it has never seen any battle field nor was used on any dangerous mission. The portion dedicated to the stamp of the issue numbers on the caseback is left blank as one can expect.


    Considered by many as one of the rarest and most sought after dive watches, the present Tornek Rayville TR900 would be the pinnacle of any professional wristwatch collection.

95

Ref. TR-900
An extremely rare and attractive stainless steel anti-magnetic diver's wristwatch with humidity indicator

Circa 1966
41mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

Estimate
CHF40,000 - 90,000 
€37,300-84,000
$42,100-94,700

sold for CHF112,500

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East

41 79 637 1724
aghotbi@phillips.com

The Geneva Watch Auction: XI

Geneva Auction 27 - 28 June 2020