Good news for first-generation Apple Watch owners – according to an internal service policy that was issued last year to Apple Stores and Apple Authorized third-party retailers, a copy of which was obtained by MacRumors, repairs to the device’s back panel will continue being offered for “up to three-years from the original purchase date.” In other words, should the back cover of your original Apple Watch become detached from its chassis, as shown in the photo below, you’ll be able to take it into an Apple Store or Apple Authorized reseller and receive a free repair for up to three-years, regardless of its limited warranty or extended AppleCare protection status.
“Apple has determined that under certain conditions on some Apple Watch (1st generation) devices the back cover may separate from the watch case. Apple will service eligible devices free of charge. Apple will authorize coverage for three (3) years from the date of purchase.”
Even if you were among the first contenders to purchase an Apple Watch back in April, 2015, for example, the company’s updated policy provides that all first-generation models including the Apple Watch Sport, Edition, and Hermés are eligible for free repair in accordance with the aforementioned hardware issue.
The news comes as various factions of the web, including Twitter users and Apple Support Forum members, have posted photos of their first-generation Apple Watch with the back cover detached. In many instances, the back cover is said to simply fall off the chassis when users go to retrieve the device from its magnetic charging pod. Even John Gruber of Daring Fireball shared a photo of his wife’s stainless steel Apple Watch with its back cover completely detached, while indicating the device (which she’d purchased in May of 2015) had been providing “erratic workout readings” prior to completely falling apart last October.
While Apple has so far provided some customers with a free repair of their disintegrating Apple Watch, others reported having to pay out of pocket given they’ve exceeded the time limitations of their warranty. Although the policy was updated last year, this is oddly enough the first time it’s been shared with the public, MacRumors noted.
If your original Apple Watch has fallen victim to this detachment issue, you have three options to get your free service:
Or contact Apple support to arrange free shipment of the damaged device to Apple’s Repair Center.
The good news, at least for owners of the newer Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 released last fall, is that Apple has apparently used a much a stronger adhesive on those devices, as there have so far been no reports of similar detachment issues with them.