Tornek-Rayville is a name commonly uttered around the halls of independent watchmaker conversations. They’ve seen great success with their Paradive and TR-660 models. I feel like their brand ethos has them well-entrenched in the vintage-y/milspec-y/tool watch-y strata that make up a pretty decent wedge of the watch-collecting community. Today, I am reviewing the new Tornek-Rayville Type 7B “BlakJak.”

The Blakjak is a new pilot watch from the brand with a well-known and familiar form factor. Steel case, 12hr bezel, syringe hands, radioactive symbol. When this watch arrived, I couldn’t help but shake that it felt incredibly familiar. Then it struck me: this was a dead ringer for the Marathon Steel Navigator. Does it matter that these watches are so similar? I’m unsure, and I’ll let the reader decide for themselves.


The case of the BlakJak is listed on their materials as 42.5mm, but they specify that’s the bezel diameter. By my calipers, the actual case is closer to 47.8mm; this is a beefy boy once you get it on the wrist. The lug-to-lug is 48.7mm, and the thickness is 13.5mm (Tornek states 13.2mm, but what’s .3 among friends). Tornek has done an excellent job finishing the Blakjak’s case with brushed finishes on most surfaces and a polished chamfer running the extremity of the topside. This gives it a good blend of utility and flash on the wrist.

Something else Tornek did here that is greatly appreciated is drill the 22mm lugs so you can easily change straps. I’ll never know why brands stopped drilling lug holes, but I always prefer it when they’re present. On the right side of the case, we have a large 7mm (my calipers say 6.8mm) crown. This thing has nice grooves for traction, but they feel slightly sharp against my wrist when I wear it.

On the wrist, this watch feels large. The closest comparison I can think of would be a Seiko Turtle, which shares the same case size in both dimensions (from what I can remember). The Blakjak, however, lacks the Turtle’s smooth sides and flush crown. It’s very noticeable on the wrist, and like I said above, the crown does rub on the back of my hand throughout the day.


The Blakjak, in all its mil-spec glory, has a highly functional dial. Utilitarian with everything you need to see and… maybe a few things you don’t. This is one of those situations where utility or function begins to bump up against cluttered and busyness. Do we need a non-radioactive symbol on this dial? Now, this is not Tornek-Rayville’s fault per se. These watches and dials are established “vibes.” The Marathon Navigator has almost the same dial, albeit with Tritium and a justified radioactive indicator.

It’s a matte black dial underneath a flat sapphire crystal. The hour scales are printed on as 12 and 24 indicators around the inner circles. A date window at 3 o’clock sports a black day and date wheel. My model has English day or Roman numerals with hands that are white syringe-style and a luminous band down the middle. The rehaut is interesting. There are little slices out of the rehaut at each hour marker, and there appear to be small pieces of luminous material in each area. This serves as the luminous indicator for the hours after dark.

At this time, the lume Tornek has chosen is a blue BGW9 Super Luminova. It’s dimmer to the eye when charged by a flashlight but well-proven to glow long into the night when needed. I’m surprised at the amount of lume on the BlakJak. I would have thought they would have taken the opportunity to make an absolute eyeball scorcher, but hey, that’s just me.

Surrounding the crystal is the DLC-coated stainless steel bezel insert with 12-hr markers. There is no criticism here; I love a 12-hour bezel and find them more functional than a standard dive bezel. The serrations on the bezel’s edges are very reminiscent of Seiko’s double row of cutouts.


The BlakJak utilizes the Seiko NH35. This 21,600bph day/date movement maintains a 40-ish-hour power reserve. This decision by Tornek is the thing that sets them apart from the other watches in this space. The more well-known Marathon Navigator is a quartz watch. For those “mechanical master race purists,” this will be the logical choice, right?

I usually save the discussion of cost and price later in a review article, but this is something worth bringing up here. Tornek-Rayville has the BlakJak priced right at $895. Marathon’s steel Navigator with a date is priced at $800 and powered by an ETA Swiss Quartz movement. My preference for my wrist and wallet would have been to see a higher-end movement in the BlakJak for this price point. There is no shade cast specifically on the NH35, but it’s common to see this movement in watches dramatically cheaper than this one.

Strap & Bracelet

The BlakJak ships with three strap options: A steel bracelet, a rubber strap (that smells faintly of vanilla, and a Maratac nylon strap (with black hardware). This, paired with the 22mm lugs, makes this watch fairly versatile in its strap-donning abilities. But there are some issues… The simplest for me is the nylon strap; while Maratac’s straps are good quality and well-regarded, I’d have preferred a NATO with hardware to match the case. The included rubber strap is nice, goes on the watch quickly and wears nicely. Where the straps begin to cause some issues for me is with the bracelet. The steel bracelet has quick-release spring bars, which are great—I did find them a little tricky to use as I couldn’t compress both sides and remove the end link from the case; they didn’t compress enough. I had to compress one side, angle the end link to keep it from falling back into the lug hole, and then attack the other side till it came loose. It’s not terrible, but not great either.

Additionally, and potentially a more significant problem, came with sizing the bracelet. The bracelet uses screw-in pins to connect the links—easy, right? Well, in the example I received, the threads on the bracelet links were so coarse that I had a terrible time getting the pin screwed back in after removing a link. The issues were so significant that I gave up trying the bracelet on the watch and wore it exclusively on the rubber strap.

Now, I could have just received the watch to give Tornek and the BlakJak the benefit of the doubt. This review sample was delivered pre-release, so there could be some associated improvement since then.

Final Thoughts

This was a frustrating watch to review. Tornek-Rayville has been known for working with established, for lack of a better term, mil-spec watch designs for a while now. The BlakJak is the most recent version of this. Throughout this review, I couldn’t help but ask myself the question, however, “Do we need something else like this on the market?” Again, as I said above, some people will appreciate the choice in the BlakJak of getting a mechanical watch in this form factor. I get that. If I was going to offer a bit of constructive criticism here…

I might forgo including three strap options, make the watch available on either rubber or steel and slim down the packaging/included bits to level up the overall finishing on the bracelet itself. As I stated above, I would also upgrade the movement a touch. A Miyota or Selitta would be more at home in this price bracket than the NH35. But these are relative nitpicks, if I am being honest. Ultimately, this isn’t a watch I would buy. For the price, I’d be more interested in the grab-and-go nature of the Marathon, and I would likely opt for the non-steel version. Additionally, I love tritium tube indices, and sadly, Tornek did not carry that over here.

The Competition

The most significant competitive option will be the Marathon Navigator in steel. The decision here is between mechanical vs. quartz and traditional lume vs. tritium tubes. I’ve already stated how I feel, but I can see some watch nerds falling on the other side of that fence. You could also look at Tornek’s Paradive model to get a similar form factor but have additional dial options. However, they are priced slightly higher and arguably have a better movement.


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