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1996 Rolex Air-King “Domino's” ref. 14000

Co-branded Rolex dials are some of the rarest vintage Rolex dials ever made, and they are most frequently associated with prestigious companies such COMEX and Tiffany & Co. These watches often command huge price premiums at auction, however, not all co-branded Rolexes boast heritage or upscale names.

In fact, many feature some truly unexpected secondary logos printed upon them, and arguably none better represents the highbrow/lowbrow co-branded Rolex phenomenon than the Domino’s Pizza Rolexes. In our latest installment of What Is On My Wrist, Craft + Tailored’s CEO Cameron Barr cuts a slice of pizza topped with Rolex history and discusses a 1996 Rolex Air-King ref. 14000 that features his personal favorite variation of the cult-favorite “Domino’s Pizza” co-branded dial.

When you think of Domino’s Pizza, paper plate end-of-year school parties, late night munchies, and budget-friendly college dinners undoubtedly spring to mind. However, the ubiquitous American multinational pizza chain actually has a long and well-documented history of working with Rolex to produce custom-ordered watches as gifts given to franchise owners for hitting specific sales goals. The tradition started as a sales contest; if franchise owners were able to smash a $20k sales week, they would be awarded with a Rolex watch that featured the bold Domino’s logo on its dial. Over the years, the parameters of the contest have changed, and while it is still possible for franchisees to win a Domino’s Rolex, none of them have the Domino’s logos on their dials anymore as Rolex ceased co-branding its dials many years ago. 

The classic stainless steel Rolex Air-King was Domino’s watch of choice for its sales awards, although you will find the odd Bulova and Seiko that have also been emblazoned with the Domino’s logo. This particular Air-King is a reference 14000 from 1996 and it features the full-color Domino’s logo that appears at an angle on the lower half of its dial; earlier versions had the logo on its side. Beyond the Domino’s dial itself, the watch is about as classic as you can get with a 34mm case crafted from stainless steel and fitted with a matching smooth bezel and steel Oyster bracelet. Since the Rolex Air-King 14000 was produced during the mid/late-1990s, this example features a sapphire crystal to protect that lovely Domino’s dial, rather than one made from acrylic like earlier references. 

Despite its roots as a tool watch manufacturer, Rolex is now regarded as being among the most famous luxury brands in the world and one that has become synonymous with exclusivity. On the other hand, Domino’s Pizza represents the total opposite of exclusivity and is a favorite food for the everyman, an affordable pizza with late night delivery for the masses! In an era when collaboration pieces have never been more popular, and when Rolex has never been less open to the idea of producing them, it is easy to understand the appeal of co-branded Rolex dials – let alone one that represents such an unexpected union between two of the world’s most iconic brands from polar opposite ends of popular culture.

 

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