Tornek-Rayville - The Geneva Watch Auction: XVI Geneva Saturday, November 5, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Tornek-Rayville
    Year: Circa 1965
    Reference No: TR-900
    Case No: No case number
    Model Name: Tornek-Rayville US
    Material: Sandblasted steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. AS 1361, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Nylon NATO
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel
    Dimensions: 41mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by an authentication report conducted by Blancpain Heritage department, Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 275th anniversary exhibition certificate, paper hang tag of the exhibition and a special winding box developed for the exhibition

  • Catalogue Essay

    The story behind the Tornek Rayville TR-900 is very closely linked to the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. Used by the French army since the late 50s, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was soon 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.

    A total of approximately 1,000 examples were made in the early 1960s. 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. 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 portion dedicated to the stamp of the issue numbers on the caseback is left blank as one can expect.
    The extremely good condition of the present watch tends to prove that it has never seen any battlefield nor was it used on any dangerous mission. But instead, it was recognized years later as being a significant piece to represent the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms history and was selected by the brand and an independent expert to be exhibited during the events that commemorated the 275th anniversary of the brand.

    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.


Ref. TR-900
An extremely rare and historically important stainless steel anti-magnetic diver's wristwatch with humidity indicator, made for the US Navy

Circa 1965
41mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

CHF60,000 - 120,000 

Sold for CHF100,800

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East
+41 22 317 81 81

Tiffany To
Head of Sale, Geneva
+41 22 317 96 63

The Geneva Watch Auction: XVI

Geneva Auction 5 - 6 November 2022