The Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “Blakjak” is based on a 1990s military watch that didn’t realize its full potential. Like a promising athlete whose nascent career never materialized, the reference design, Type 6 SANDY 660, that was manufactured in the mid-1990s should have seen service in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq but to the best of our knowledge never did. The vintage reference piece was a collage of design influences and felt like the result of a development process that was rushed or prematurely cut short. For more than 20 years we have considered how we would complete and carry forward the design. With the generous assistance of Steve Laughlin of Raven Watches/Finch Knife Co. the design for Blakjak was finally completed in 2021 and put into production in 2022. 

While all of the following can be found on different parts of the Tornek-Rayville website, we decided to publish the content in a printed format because of its unique staying power and immersive storytelling ability. We have several goals for the zine. First we want to provide you a synopsis of what it was like for those brave Americans that stepped into the unknown in defense of the United States after the 9/11 attacks. Most of you reading this won’t have the luxury of spending months reading the books we included in our bibliography so we created a fictional character to relay a composite of real events and details to give you an overview. Second, we wanted to present a use case to illustrate the potential for the Tornek-Rayville Type 7B. We hope that the photos and narrative convey to you why this design has occupied such a long lasting hold on our imagination. Finally it is our sincere ambition that this zine will inspire you to learn more about the experiences of those who were really there. 

Bill Yao

Staff Sgt. Highrock, Jimmie to the guys, was chilled to the bone and slightly delirious with sleep deprivation but never felt more fulfilled. It was also hard to complain since the rebels were doing the same with less and had been at it for years. The ODA had had to break up into 4 cells in order to get the coverage they wanted and his cell, Alpha, had just spent the last 12 tortured hours on horseback riding over ridges and up to the spur deep in Taliban held territory. Before leaving he had set his Type 7B wrist watch to count the number of days so he could keep better track over the limited supplies they had. The latest supply drop had missed the DZ and they couldn’t for the life of them find any trace of it and so went the extra MREs they had counted on bringing with them. Dave had just finished setting up the SOFLAM and Mike was on the SATCOM to confirm with the Capt. they had arrived as well as the expected kickoff for the attack that they would be supporting. Their task was to bomb the shit out of any reinforcements moving south towards Dostum’s point of attack on the Taliban lines. 

Mike confirmed to Dave and Jimmie that the attack was set for mid-afternoon about 2 hours before sunset. They had finally arranged through K2, their base in Uzbekistan, to have air assets over the battle area in order to provide close air support before, during, and after the attack. They still had a few hours to wait and so spent the time glassing the road and the surrounding mountains through their Steiner binoculars trying to locate enemy positions. Jimmie reset the 12-hr bezel on his watch, currently set to EST where it was the middle of the night and his wife was asleep, to point to the hour hand so he could keep track of the number of hours before the action was set to begin. 

As Dave took over the surveillance so he could eat, Jimmie started to reflect on the whirlwind week since they had landed in the valley. It made him think to that quote: 

Everything changed after 9/11. In the years leading up to the attack they had had a hard time getting what they felt was the minimum gear that they needed to maintain an acceptable state of readiness. The politicians acted like war was supposed to be a thing of the past. The Tornek-Rayville Type 7B had taken more than a year to get approved even after working in as many pre-approved design elements as possible. If it wasn’t for pulling a few strings and bending, almost breaking, the rules around the use of the Alternative Requisition Express System (ARES for short), which was how they got their custom rifles and other gear that they needed/wanted, they wouldn’t have had the watches for this deployment. The watch filled a specific need for them. It was a field watch crammed with as much info as possible that was also still dive capable. More importantly the movement was the tried and true automatically winding mechanical NH36, an improved version of the one found in the dive watches the SEALs had issued to the teams. You never really knew when something would flare up somewhere and the last thing you remembered to do was replace your watch battery, as one of the Agency guys found out on his way here.

The Type 7B came with a choice of either a 60 minute time elapse bezel or the 12-hr bezel that Jimmie preferred for its added flexibility. Unlike the brass running the supply system he and the guys weren’t sold on those tritium gas tubes that were in all the standard issue watches. They much preferred this new material that had become publicly available just before the development process started. SuperLuminova was non-radioactive, re-chargeable with sunlight and it wouldn’t degrade over time like tritium. For the 90s this was cutting edge stuff that Jimmie and the other watch nerds on the team kept up to speed on.

After the terrorist attack everything changed. All of a sudden they were cleaning out camping stores of Garmin eTrex GPS units, cold weather gear, and contacting a publisher for 600 copies of an out of print book, The Bear Went Over the Mountain, on the Soviet experience in Afghanistan. For the first time in years the unit was given a blank check to get what was needed at practically any cost. Intel was one of the things they couldn’t seem to buy at any price, or perhaps it was still restricted above his pay grade, so a large amount of their prep was from publicly available sources such as books and NatGeo documentaries. Jimmie was holding an old Soviet military map from the 80s that he had scrounged at K2. There was nothing else available except for what was no better than a tourist map if you were planning on trucking humanitarian aid around the country. 

In the dark of night, they’d flown in via MH-47, courtesy of the SOAR 160th. Their INFIL flight path went right over the mountains, including one called “The Bear”, forcing them and the pilots higher than they’d ever been in a helicopter. He could feel himself and saw some of the crew go hypoxic as the O2 system wasn’t working well in the back of the helo. For the aircrew apparently this was a nightly event since there wasn’t any time or parts to fix the issue. Amongst their regular gear they were hauling a case of vodka into a muslim country and about $5 million in non-sequential benjamins. Some of which was for the Agency team they were to hook up with and the rest for them to buy supplies and “make” friends as required. If this was a movie no one would believe it. You really could not make this up. 

Then they landed in what felt like a tear in the space time continuum where horseback cavalry and light infantry were charging into tank and ZSU-23* fire, while bombs rode a laser beam into the enemy armor. The 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries were quite literally crashing into each other in a storm of bullets and scrum of flesh and blood. There was no doubting the bravery of those Afghans and General Dostum was no exception. He had seen the General make a suicidal charge into enemy lines to dramaticaly rally a stalled advance to victory just a few days ago. These guys had almost nothing. The ammo Jimmie and the guys were used to fielding was spread amongst dozens of men instead of one. Even food was in short supply for these rebels, essentially requiring Jimmie and the guys to share their rations and by default bringing down their own intake to the equivalent of one MRE a day.

Highrock had heard that the latest supply helo had clipped a ridge and damaged its landing gear forcing it to turn around at the last minute. A rare miss for the SOAR pilots but it really went to show you how difficult the flying was. The guys back on the C-team were teasing Jimmie about his coffee set being on that bird and that they’d put a priority on getting that out to him. It was almost his time to take his turn back on watch. Jimmie shotgunned two packets of freeze dried coffee to fight back the delirium. That first cup of real, hot coffee, was going to taste amazing just as soon as they could find a few hours to themselves. The Pentagon was estimating that this fight would take 1-2 years, and the Colonel before they had left K2 told them he didn’t expect to see them again so might as well get some creature comforts in. That bird was going to make it in somehow, it also had the ammo that the rebels desperately needed.


Reading List

  • First In, An Insider’s Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan by Gary Schroen 
  • Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan by Doug Stanton 
  • JAWBREAKER by Gary Berntsen 
  • Swords of Lightning, Green Beret Horse Soldiers and America’s Response to 9/11 by Mark Nutsch, Bob Pennington and Jim DeFelice 
  • WAR by Sebastian Junger 



  • Restrepo by Sebastian Junger 
  • Korengal by Sebastian Junger 
Photography by

Hunter Kelly