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The story behind this bizarre Domino's Pizza Rolex that's up for auction

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A 1989 example of the Domino’s Rolex. (Christies)
A 1989 example of the Domino’s Rolex. (Christies)

Domino’s (DPZ) has always been a little different. The pizza company, which may or not be a tech company, has long had a bizarre reward for employees who hit big weekly goals for pizza sales: a Domino’s-branded Rolex Air-King, of which Christie’s is auctioning off an example on Tuesday, May 1st.

Usually, the way to get one is for a Domino’s manager to have their store hit $30,000 per week for four consecutive weeks in sales. (There’s also a few other “operational requirements,” but sales is the main thing, a spokesperson clarified.) But once in a while, they’ll surface on social media or a watch site — and bring with it some questions.

How is one of the most powerful brands willing to share co-branding with Domino’s (of all brands) on the face of their product?

In general, Rolex has fiercely guarded its design, but it’s occasionally shared co-branding. Tiffany-branded watches, for example, fetch an extremely high premium. These “double-logo” watches fetch enormous premiums from collectors, and because the partnering brands have cachet, says Paul Altieri, who runs Bob’s Watches, a popular site for pre-owned and vintage Rolex watches.

“That’s easy to understand,” he says, “But I’ve never understood why they allowed Domino’s Pizza and others outside the luxury world to logo their watches.”

Does it add value or subtract value? It adds it, apparently. (Christies)
Does it add value or subtract value? It adds it, apparently. (Christies)

Domino’s, weirdly, isn’t the only one that doesn’t make sense.

“We once had this really cool GMT with ‘AB Trucking’ from 1979,” says Altieri. “Great watch, but who is AB Trucking and why is their name on the dial?”

The practice of putting the iconic Domino’s domino logo on the dial stopped in the early 2000s, and most of the watches that pop up are from the 90’s. (“When it became easier to hit the weekly goal of $20,000 in pizza sales,” Altieri notes.)

Even more mystery is added to this situation, because no one really knows how many are out there.

“This program has been going on for decades,” said a Domino’s spokesperson. “I doubt we have a good way of knowing how many we have given out.”

Today, Rolex and Domino’s put the logo in a more discrete location on the bracelet, which likely makes Domino’s Rolex winners happier, unless that’s their style. Altieri says Rolex probably discontinued the dial collaboration, due to the mismatch in branding between luxury Swiss horology and 30-minute pizza. (“Putting the Domino’s logo on a less visible place like the bracelet was a perfect solution,” he says.)

But as the watch world will likely re-learn from Christie’s auction, the Domino’s logo will probably add value to this watch, given the rarity and collector-fever that comes from any double-logo Rolex watch.

“It does add value as there are lots of collectors — and past employees of the Company — who want them,” says Altieri. “In general, it adds about 10-20% over a normal non branded model.”

Christie’s estimates a hammer-price of $3,000 to $5,000. Most Rolex Air-King watches sell for between $3,000 and $3,500.

Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann. Confidential tip line: FinanceTips[at]oath[.com].