In the world of luxury timepieces, there’s not a name that’s as recognizable as Rolex. Rolex has had a longstanding history of creating some of the most innovative and groundbreaking pieces of watch technology since it was founded in 1905. The Rolex brand is also fairly exclusive. The fact that the average working man could probably never afford to buy a Rolex in his lifetime is just the way life works. So it comes as a natural shock to everyone that Rolex has a co-branded watch with a company that is as far from exclusive as possible—Domino’s Pizza.
The Domino’s Rolex
The watch in question is called the Domino’s Rolex, and it’s been around since the 1980s. The watch is actually a Rolex Air-King, a vintage Rolex that featured the manufacturer’s time-tested Oystersteel and Calibre 3131 perpetual movement. It was introduced in 1945 to serve homage to the aviation industry. It is shock-resistant and long considered to be the workingman’s Rolex. That designation remains true to this day as the Air-King is considered to be Rolex’s entry-level watch. It sells for about $6,200 in 2020. What’s unique about Domino’s Rolexes is the fact that they are marked with the Domino’s brand. It’s an interesting combination, but the more we think about it—the more confusing it gets. Why would Rolex allow a brand like Domino’s on their watches?
The story behind the watch is as fascinating as the watch itself. According to Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan, the Domino’s Rolex was part of an incentivizing program that started informally in 1977. When a franchisee saw Monaghan wearing a unique Bulova timepiece with the Domino’s logo on the dial, he nonchalantly asked the founder what was needed to do to take the watch from. Monaghan responded with ease, “Turn in a twenty-thousand-dollar sales week.” Of course the franchisee did just that, and a new incentivizing program began.
Monaghan realized the motivational power of the watches, so he upped the prize a bit and started awarding Seiko watches to the top earners. The founder literally gave out hundreds of $800 Seiko watches. They weren’t exactly like Rolexes, but it was enough to get some sales momentum going. $10,000 dollar sales will earn you one Hermés tie, and $20,000 dollars in sales within a week would get you a brand new and Domino’s branded Rolex Air-King. It became known as the Rolex Challenge, and many franchisees didn’t hesitate to go for the top prize.
Domino’s still gives out Rolexes today, but they’ve changed the goal to $25,000 in sales instead of $20,000, and they have to do it four weeks in a row. After all, Rolex watches cost more today than they did 40 years ago. It’s definitely a daunting task considering that the average cost of a Domino’s pizza range from $6 to $18 a piece. Even at its highest price point, a franchise would need to sell at least 1,300 pizzas in order to make the cut. At the lowest price point of $6 per pizza, a franchise will need to sell around 4,000 pizzas to win the Rolex Challenge. That may be a lot of pizzas, but we know that it’s not impossible. On average, a franchise makes about $17,000 in sales within a week’s timeframe, so pushing for $8,000 more than average seems a little more achievable.
Domino’s franchisee Hannah Lantz realized the possibilities and got to work on the challenge right away. She’s actually won the challenge—not once, not twice, but 5 times. In fact, she’s even managed to really push the envelope in sales and made up to $50,000 in sales within a week.
Older versions of the Domino’s Rolex featured the pizza brand right on the dial, just above the 6 o’clock index. This is perhaps more striking than the newer versions, which completely eliminated the colorful branding on the dial. The brand’s been relocated onto the bracelet as a steel rendition of the logo. The vintage Domino’s Rolex with the colorful branding on the dial gets a lot of intrigue because of how unique they are. Rolex has been known to partner with other companies to create co-branded watches. Some of these companies include Coca-Cola and Tiffany’s. Notice that these other brands are significantly giants in their respective industries.
While Domino’s have become an industry giant themselves over the years, they aren’t exactly in the luxury game like Tiffany’s or Rolex. This is why the partnership is such an odd combination. When the public first heard about the Domino’s Rolex, there was a great mix of reactions. Reactions varied greatly from absolute disgust to immediate fascination. Many people that disapproved of the Domino’s Rolex design felt that the branding minimized Rolex’s luxury brand—as if the Rolex brand itself could ever be minimized in any way. But just like Rolex’s usual style, they really just ignore the naysayers and go about doing whatever they want. Rolex is known for adding little quirks to their watches and changing things up in subtle ways. These little quirks are the parts that add incredible value to some Rolex timepieces.
You can find a pre-owned Domino’s Rolex Air-King today for roughly $4,000 a piece. You’ll sometimes spot these watches on second-hand stores or watch sellers online. These watches are personal tokens of achievement, so they don’t come around very often. They are mild collectibles because of how unique they are, but they don’t appeal to everyone’s tastes. It might take months or even years for a retailer to sell a Domino’s Rolex. The value of the Domino’s Rolex can change at any time; and if you happen to be a fan of the Domino’s brand, no one can stop you from getting a Domino’s Rolex Air-King for yourself.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker