Bezels & Blades - Tools With A Purpose

Bezels & Blades - Tools With A Purpose

Timepieces & Watches Have Deep Meaning In The NatSec Community

Ask any self-respecting watch nerd what passions pair with timepieces and you will inevitably hear about Porsche, Leica cameras, and Negroni-flavored toothpaste. Like any community, watch enthusiasts have coalesced around several big personalities (tastemakers) who set the aspirational standards of success: a vintage Paul Newman Rolex Daytona poking out of a cashmere Loro Piana sweater while driving an air-cooled Porsche 911 to the country club with a chilled Negroni in the cup holder. Some say it’s pretentious.

For our community, watches are tools, functional items we integrate into our daily lives. Meant to last a lifetime and be passed down to the next generation, their “value” isn’t monetary, it's derived from our shared experiences with these inanimate objects. The interest is the human element. There are a lot of parallels between our relationship with timepieces and knives. Today we’ll explore.

(Photo Credit: James Rupley)

Bezels & Blades

I have written about my relationship with knives from an EDC standpoint while at CIA (READ HERE), and it’s true that the essentials for every Case Officer generally include a watch, pen, knife, and flashlight.

cia case officer everyday carry edc knife pen wallet
Every CIA Case Officer's EDC should include a pokey thing.

For generations, soldiers and intelligence officers have deployed around the globe to carry out vital national security operations. While the tradecraft, technology, and locations evolve over time, two things present with every practitioner both then and now are a simple wristwatch and a knife. Yarborough, Ka-Bar, and Fairbairn-Sykes are as iconic in our community as Submariner, Tuna, and Seamaster. When we return from these conflicts our blades are talismans, physical embodiments of the people, hardship and accomplishments we encountered. Their value is more than the sum of their parts. Even a simple and relatively cheap Spyderco can be an heirloom. 

udt navy seal tudor submariner sog knife
UDT Issued Tudor Submariner and SOG Knife (Photo Credit: UDT/SEAL Museum)

Today everything is perishable: phones, computers, cars, and even spouses are replaced every few years. Most of these commodities are plastic and digital, and there are few functional tools capable of being used for decades and passed down to the next generation. No one needs a mechanical watch, premium knife, or titanium pen, but we use them because of what they represent and the stories they tell.  

Knifemakers & Watchmakers

Just as we do with watches, we appreciate blades for their utility, but also their design and craftsmanship. Like a good watchmaker, knifemakers are hyper-focused on details. They obsess over design, materials, and aesthetics to create a premium functional tool. These are purpose-built tools, not collectibles or fashion accessories.

watches of espionage knife mosebey half face blades toor
(Photo Credit: James Rupley)

Knives In The Global War On Terror

One positive consequence of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan is veteran-driven entrepreneurship. Many of these companies focus on utilitarian items with deep meaning to their community: coffee, watches, and particularly knives. Former Navy SEAL Andrew Arrabito founded Half Face Blades, Marine turned knifemaker Connor Toor founded Toor Knives, and a plethora of other former SpecOps personnel have directed their energy to the craft. Legendary knifemakers like Ernest Emerson and Daniel Winkler worked closely with elite units to develop tools for our community. The result of each of these efforts is a tool with both utility and meaning that transcends the physical object. 

connor toor knives watches of espionage half face blades
Connor Toor, Marine turned knifemaker and founder of Toor Corporation. (Photo Credit: Toor Corporation) 

Similar to our approach to timepieces, when it comes to knives, we are brand agnostic and support a wide range of knifemakers, particularly those that focus on made-in-America and the community. The “knife community” is just as tribal as the “watch community” with online forums dissecting every detail and material to support “their brand.”

The Best Knives (& Watches) Are Gifts

Like watches, the best knives start their journey as gifts. When King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan gave me a Royal Jordanian Breitling, he also presented a Jordanian combat knife, a blend of the traditional Jambiya dagger (جنۢبية) and a modern weapon, with "The Arab Army" (al-Jaysh al-Arabiالجيش العربي) inscribed on the blade. Like the Breitling, which accompanied me for over a decade of Agency operations, the blade is a treasured keepsake, something I will pass on to my children when the time comes.

royal jordanian breitling aerospace watches of espionage

While some cultures see this practice as taboo, signifying the severing of a friendship or wishing ill on the recipient, the symbolic meaning of gifting a knife is profound. This is particularly true in military and intelligence circles where deployments, graduations, and joint operations are often commemorated with knives. The Yarborough knife is one notable example, having historically been gifted to graduates of the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course.

Yarborough knife is one notable example, having historically been gifted to graduates of the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course
(Photo Credit: Unknown)

Father & Son - A Right Of Passage

When I was eight years old, my father gave me a simple Swiss Army knife. It cost next to nothing but at the time it meant everything to me. It was more than “just a knife”, it was a symbol of responsibility and a milestone towards reaching manhood, a lesson in consequences. Today, the knife is long gone, but an inch-long scar remains on my left pointer finger. I have carried on this tradition, presenting my sons knives at specific milestones in their lives, and will give them watches as they get older.

When I graduated from university, my father gave me my first real timepiece, a Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Hometime. At the time, I didn’t realize its significance, but in hindsight, it was a pivotal moment in my life and a lesson in appreciation of time. While I wear the watch less today, it bears the scars of over a decade of hard use (something not necessarily advisable for a JLC dress watch).

cia paramilitary watch collection oss vintage
Former CIA Officer J.R. Seeger’s collection of military-issued watches and OSS memorabilia (Photo Credit: J.R. Seeger)

This tradition and its deep ties to our community are what led us to develop our knife, the Mosebey Blade. It’s a functional tool that is appreciated for its utility, craftsmanship, and aesthetics. The Mosebey Blade is a tool for the discerning gentleman, “a PhD who can win a bar fight,” named after one of the most legendary Africa Division CIA Case Officers.

Bill “Bwana” Mosebey 

Every tool we make comes with a history lesson. Our inaugural knife is named after Bill “Bwana” Mosebey, a legendary Africa Division Case Officer you’ve probably never heard of. 

The Most Dangerous Man In Africa

Born in 1938 in Pennsylvania, Mosebey was the great-grandson of Civil War spy William Leslie Mosebey. Before joining the CIA in 1959, Mosebey joined the US Army as a reservist, earning his airborne wings before completing special operations training.

bill "bwana" mosebey cia africa case officer spy espionage

An agency legend during the Cold War, Mosebey spent the majority of his 34-year CIA career on “The Continent” conducting intelligence collection and covert action against the Soviet Union. Developing a reputation as “The Most Dangerous Man In Africa”, Mosebey earned numerous awards for his service including The William J. Donovan Award and the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, our Nation’s highest for intelligence officers. Retiring in 1995, Mosebey rejoined the agency in the aftermath of the attacks on September 11th, 2001. 

Known for his tailored safari suits and waxed mustache, Mosebey was also an avid outdoorsman, woodsman, and historian, and spent considerable time hunting while on assignment for the CIA around the world. Never one for the spotlight, Mosebey single-handedly influenced geopolitics while serving as the consummate quiet professional, a classic gentleman who lived a life of adventure and service to his nation. 

Our blade is a tribute to unsung heroes of the intelligence community like Mosebey, produced from the highest quality materials for a unique marriage of utility and refinement that embodies our “Use Your Tools” ethos. 

The Mosebey Blade

Watches of Espionage Mosebey Knife
(Photo Credit: James Rupley)

The result of a nine-month development effort, the Mosebey is a fully customized all-purpose blade made in the USA from premium domestic materials. We made no compromises on the design or craftsmanship of this unique tool for our community. Presented as a limited edition, each blade is individually numbered and serialized.

Inspired by the design of a one-off blade W.O.E. purchased while living in Africa, we worked with Marine veteran turned knife maker Connor Toor to bring our tool to life.

As with most of our tools, the branding is subtle with a deep laser-engraved W.O.E. spearhead on the blade and another inside the leather sheath. The spearhead is modeled off the insignia originally developed by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and used by modern-day intelligence and SpecOps units.

The Mosebey Blade

Order Here


Watches of Espionage

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Un superbe couteau ! Dommage que l’on ne puisse pas l’avoir en France !


Very interesting historie.It seems that several people in the military and intelligence have similar interests around the world.Dr Juan Pablo Pozzi ex military surgeon. IPHA international professional hunters Asociation full professional member

Juan Pablo Pozzi

Very cool article. Connor Toor’s knives are fantastic. I’ve got a Merchant 2.0 that I love. Solid and well made with a very distinctive look to it. You mention knives as totems. I am in no way a high speed low drag type, but have had the opportunity to travel for work and I have a Spyderco Paramilitary (carrying it now) that has been my companion through thick and thin. Not an expensive knife but it has been there and worked flawlessly whenever called upon. I understand how something as simple as a knife becomes totemic and you feel almost naked without it. A weird sort of energy or connection forms with those types of objects. I have an Emerson A100 that is a similar story. They start to transcend “object.”

As always WOE, a great read and worthy addition to your work.

Bryan Bradburn

Another amazing article WoE! Cant wait to get a Mosbey. I love the passion you put into everything.

Jake L

WRT the “bad luck:”
It’s traditional (at least in parts of Europe), when giving or receiving a knife, for a coin to be given in exchange to prevent ill befalling either party. I have done this on several occasions.

Robert Hupp

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