1996 Rolex Air-King (Ref. 14000) "Domino's Pizza"
1996 was an excellent year. Along with being the year the legendary ‘96 Chicago Bulls coalesced, it was the year Nintendo released the literally game-changing Nintendo 64, the Dallas Cowboys won their last Super Bowl title, and the first Hotmail servers went online, and Dominos Pizza was one of the most prominent fast-food pizza franchises in America. And similar to the Larry O'Brien trophy, this eccentric Rolex Air-King was the ultimate trophy for one successful Domino's Pizza franchise owner who had to achieve back-to-back weeks of exceptional sales figures.
Rolex watches with dials that were co-branded with the logos of corporations and organizations were seen in a variety of different references. However, none are as popular or iconic as the Air-Kings that featured logo dials. The Air-King was the preferred choice for co-branding thanks to the watch's price point and availability, and since these watches were generally being purchased and printed with the intent of being given to employees as awards or gifts, it made sense to use a budget-minded model. After all, a free Rolex is a free Rolex! That being said, the most notorious amongst the co-branded logo dials is without a doubt the Domino's Pizza Air-King. There is something magically absurd about the juxtaposition of the idealized, ultimate totem of luxury that is a Rolex watch and the bold, unmistakable logo of an iconic fast-food pizza chain. It’s something that makes these watches irresistible to many, especially when you add the nostalgia factor and the incredibly fond memories many of us have for the "30 minutes or less" pizza chain, and this has all culminated in a collecting frenzy when it comes to the Domino’s Air-Kings.
As the story goes, Tom Monaghan opened the first Domino's Pizza location in 1960 Michigan and quickly expanded to the surrounding areas after seeing early success. Thanks to the franchise model the brand adopted early on, Domino's Pizza opened its 1000th store 23 years later. During this time of rapid expansion, one of the Domino's Pizza franchise owners approached Tom to fawn over the Bulova watch he wore, which was adorned with the Domino's Pizza logo on the dial. Monaghan replied "turn in a $20,000 sales week and it's yours!" Apart from that lone Bulova and a few Seikos which were given out as awards, Domino's Pizza quickly landed on the Rolex Air-King as the company's premier award prize. At first, a franchise owner only had to have a $20,000 sales week and the Rolex was theirs, but due to the exponential growth in popularity Domino's enjoyed at the time, that sales goal was increased to $25,000 a week for 4 weeks in a row.
Rolex signified its more economical timepieces with the text "Precision" printed on the dial. These watches carried in-house movements that were well-made, but manually wound. This was until the Air-King was introduced to the world in 1957 and it became the premier model of Rolex’s more affordable Precision model range. These watches still featured the "Precision" text, but the Air-King housed a fully automatic movement and although the rest of the Precision model line eventually fizzled out, the modest Air-King has been updated and evolved over the years and remains a fixture within the Rolex lineup today.
|Dial||Silver "Domino's Pizza"|
|Bracelet||Rolex 78350 Oyster Bracelet W/ 557B End Pieces|
The exceptional case displays minimal signs of use and has been previously expertly polished to retain very thick lugs that show crisp, factory-like finishing throughout. The smooth stainless steel bezel exhibits almost no signs of use. The sapphire crystal remains blemish free. The original Rolex 78350 Oyster bracelet with 557B end pieces retains 12 links that show almost no stretch from use.
The gorgeous Domino's Pizza co-branded silver sunburst dial is in overall exceptional condition. The only flaw is a small circular discoloration between the 10 and 11 o'clock marker. Otherwise, the dial is flawless. The Domino's Pizza logo is in flawless condition. The tritium lume plots exhibit no patina and remain bright white in coloration with no degradation present when inspected under U.V. light. The original tritium hands match the dial perfectly with no degradation under U.V. light inspection.
None. The watch was recently serviced and is keeping time perfectly, backed by a 1-year warranty on accurate timekeeping.