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  • Manufacturer: Tornek-Rayville
    Year: Circa 1966
    Movement No: TR-900
    Case No: MIL-W-22176 Serial 0794, Licence 8-5970-6
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. AS 1361, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Nato strap with compass
    Clasp/Buckle: Pin buckle
    Dimensions: 41mm. Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by a book on the history of Maurice Jacques, a poster of the U.S. troop he was serving for and a letter from the second owner of the watch

  • Catalogue Essay

    For collectors, the Tornek Rayville series of watches are amongst the most unusual and sought after of all military wristwatches one can hope to find. Based on the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, they were supplied to the U.S. Navy by Allen V. Tornek. Winning a competitive bid, he successfully determined a compliant way to offer the Fifty Fathoms through his U.S. company Rayville, in light of a restrictive “Buy American” act that prevented Blancpain and all other non-U.S.-based companies from competing. A total of approximately 1,000 examples were made in the early 1960s, and the U.S. Navy destroyed nearly all of them, making each exceptionally rare.

    The Tornek Rayville model offered in the present lot is not only well preserved, but also features an exciting provenance that will delight any military watch enthusiast. It was formerly issued by the U.S. Marine Corps (a branch of the Navy) to Sergeant Maurice Jacques, who served with them for thirty years, with nearly six of them in combat. A true warrior, he won two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, and was the subject of an exhaustive biographical novel titled, “Sergeant Major, U.S. Marines” published in 1995.

    In 1966, Sgt Jacques was issued the present Tornek Rayville TR-900 dive watch. Fitted with its original Nato strap and paired with Jacques’ wrist compass, it was worn during his years of service in Vietnam with Force Recon. The watch left Vietnam with him on January 15, 1971 and remained in his possession after he retired following a remarkable career as Sergeant Major of the 5th Marine Regiment, in 1978. The present watch was worn by Sgt Jacques during his three decades of service, and is accompanied by a personal letter written by a member of his family documenting his ownership.

120

An extremely fine and historically important stainless steel anti-magnetic diver's wristwatch with compass and documentation, made for the US Navy

Circa 1966
41mm. Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

Estimate
CHF40,000 - 60,000 
€36,700-55,100
$41,200-61,800

Sold for CHF60,000

Contact Specialist
Nathalie Monbaron
+41 22 317 81 83

The Geneva Watch Auction: THREE

Geneva Auction 15 May 2016