Those familiar with the Rolex Air-King collection have likely browsed plenty of popular models.
While a number of these references are common for collectors to have heard of, it’s safe to say that fewer are familiar with the Domino’s Rolex, which isn’t a nickname coined because of a particular color or style, but rather the label given to Rolex watches made especially for the giant pizza chain.
This merging of two incredibly different brands, where one represents affluence and the other affordability, may surprise some as it is hardly the most expected pairing. However, Domino’s Pizza has been ordering custom Rolex watches from the Swiss watchmaking giant for more than 40 years.
History of the Domino’s Rolex
Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza, revealed the origins of the Domino’s Rolex watch in his 1986 autobiography, Pizza Tiger. He wrote, “I started giving away watches in 1977, when I wore a Bulova with our Domino’s logo on its face. A franchisee asked what he had to do to get that watch from me, and I told him, ‘Turn in a twenty-thousand-dollar sales week.’ He did it, and for the next few years I gave away several Seikos and after that hundreds of $800 Rolex watches.”
The Rolex watches he mentioned were in fact, the Air-King ref. 5500. With its stainless steel 34mm Oyster case, steel Oyster bracelet, and time-only dial, the Air-King 5500 is one of Rolex’s most understated watches. However, the vibrant Domino’s blue and red logo emblazoned on the dials of the Air-King watches awarded to high-achieving store managers makes the otherwise discreet Rolex stand out.
Monaghan understood that the chance to win a Rolex would be a fantastic motivator for store managers, so the pizza company set up the Domino’s Pizza Rolex Challenge. While the original way to win a Domino’s branded Rolex was to hit $20,000 a week in sales, the targets became more ambitious as the pizza chain grew. Additionally, as Rolex’s catalog has also changed, Domino’s branding has not only appeared on various watches, but also in different forms over the years. And yes, the Domino’s Pizza Rolex Challenge is still going on today with the brand new Oyster Perpetual 36 ref. 12000 standing in as the coveted prize.
It’s important to emphasize that genuine Domino’s Rolex watches are not aftermarket pieces with custom branding done by Domino’s— – these come straight from Rolex and furnished with necessary logos, some even with paperwork stating “Domino’s Pizza” as the purchaser.
Features and Variations of the Domino’s Pizza Rolex
With a history that spans over four decades, there have been several variations of Domino’s branding on Rolex watches. For instance, earlier models included the Domino’s logo on the dial. There are examples with color logos (blue, red, and white) and black and white logos, in addition to larger logos, smaller logos, straight logos, and tilted logos.
- Color Logos or Black & White Logos
- Smaller Logos or Larger Logos
- Straight Logos or Tilted Logos
Sometime in the mid-2000s, the Domino’s logo moved from the dial to the bracelet. The Domino’s logo, which is also fashioned from stainless steel, is attached to the first link (later, the second link) of the steel Oyster bracelet for a more discreet approach to the co-branding effort. There are examples with the full square Domino’s logo on the bracelet, as well as models furnished with a simplified logo with just the domino piece without the name of the pizza brand. There are a few rare transitional examples from aroundabout 2003/2004 that have the logos on both the dial and the bracelet.
- Full Logos with Domino’s Name
- Simplified Logo with No Name
Additionally, Domino’s Rolex watches typically have engravings on the caseback, which can also vary depending on the year they were awarded. Some have casebacks with the Domino’s logo, some have the initials of the awardee, some with the date and sales target (e.g. $20,000) achieved, and so on.
- Full Logo Engraving
- Simplified Logo Engraving
- Initial of Awardee Engraving
- Date & Sales Target Engraving
Which Rolex Watches Have Domino’s Branding?
Although all Domino’s Rolex watches have been stainless steel time-only watches, there have been various models used over the years including Air-King and Oyster Perpetual watches. As previously mentioned, the first Domino’s Pizza Rolex was the Air-King ref. 5500, which is one of Rolex’s longest-running models.
When Rolex discontinued the Air-King 5500 in the late-1980s, the Air-King ref. 14000 took over and therefore became the watch Domino’s used as the prize for its Rolex Challenge. There’s also the Air-King ref. 14010, which is similar to the ref. 14000 but with an engine-turned bezel rather than a smooth one. In the 2000s, Rolex upgraded the Air-King to the ref. 14000M (and 14010M) with an updated movement, followed by the Air-King ref. 114200 in 2007.
In 2014, Rolex discontinued the Air-King line entirely but kept the ref. 114200 as part of the Oyster Perpetual collection. Along with Domino’s versions of the Oyster Perpetual 114200 with 34mm cases, there are also Domino’s Oyster Perpetual 116000 models with larger 36mm cases.
In 2020, Rolex released a brand new generation of the Oyster Perpetual in various sizes and as expected, there’s a new Domino’s Rolex, too, in the form of the Oyster Perpetual 36 ref. 126000 with the silver dial and gold hands and indexes.
Here’s a quick reference on the timeline – keeping up with this challenge is, well, challenging:
- Late-1970s – 1989: Domino’s Rolex Air-King ref. 5500
- 1989 – 2000: Domino’s Rolex Air-King ref. 14000 and ref. 14010
- 2000 – 2007: Domino’s Rolex Air-King ref. 14000M and ref. 14010M
- 2007 – 2020: Domino’s Rolex Air-King ref. 114200, Oyster Perpetual 34 ref. 114200, and Oyster Perpetual 36 ref. 116000
- 2020 – Present: Domino’s Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 126000
There have also been a few smaller ladies’ Domino’s Rolex watches made over the years including the Oyster Perpetual ref. 67194, 67180, 76080, and 176200.
How Much Are Domino’s Rolex Watches?
With stainless steel cases and bracelets and simple three-handed dials, the Oyster Perpetual and discontinued Air-King references (not the current Air-King ref. 116900) have always been some of Rolex’s more affordable models. Historically, a pre-owned Domino’s Rolex watch sold anywhere between $3,000 and $6,000 depending on the specific reference and condition, with some collectors willing to pay a slight premium for the unusual branding.
However, the current value of the latest 2020 Domino’s Rolex Oyster Perpetual ref. 126000 on the secondary market is around $8,000, which is on par with the value of a standard pre-owned Oyster Perpetual ref. 126000. To put this into context, the official retail price of the Oyster Perpetual 126000 is $5,600. However, like many current Rolex models, these references (Domino’s branded ones included) sell for higher prices on the open market thanks to consumer demand significantly outpacing supply.
The Unique Rolex Watches Made for Domino’s Pizza
An Important Partnership to Commemorate Achievement
While there are several co-branded Rolex watches out there including Tiffany, Cartier, COMEX, Pan Am, and Chevrolet (just to name a few), the Domino’s Pizza ones stand out for several reasons. For instance, this has been a relationship that has endured for over 40 years and still continues today. Conversely, many of the other corporate co-branded Rolex watches were discontinued decades ago.
Furthermore, these Rolex watches are not what we traditionally think of corporate watches, such as those given after decades of service (like Coca-Cola and Winn-Dixie). Instead, the Domino’s Pizza Rolex watches are prizes offered on a regular basis for the highest-achieving members of the company.
Although some may turn their noses up at the curious co-branding of ultra-luxurious Rolex and mass-marketed Domino’s Pizza, it’s important to remember that these watches are symbols of hard work and incredible achievement on the part of the original recipient. As collectors, we often talk about the story behind the watch and all Domino’s Rolex watches have a story of personal dedication and triumph.