Apple Watch screen replacement program promises free crack fix

Apple has begun an Apple Watch screen replacement program, after finding that the glass displays of certain models can unexpectedly crack around the touchscreen. The new replacement scheme comes after some Apple Watch owners reported spreading cracks around the rounded edge of the wearable's display.

"Apple has determined that, under very rare circumstances, a crack may form along the rounded edge of the screen in aluminum models of an Apple Watch Series 2 or Series 3," the company said of the new program. "The crack may begin on one side and then may continue around the screen."

As you might expect, only certain models of Apple Watch are covered by the new program. If you've got an Apple Watch Series 2 in space gray, gold, rose gold, or silver aluminum, or an Apple Watch Nike+ Series 2 in Space gray or silver aluminum, in either the 38mm or 42mm sizes, it's covered. Those models were sold between September 2016 and September 2017, and between October 2016 and October 2017, respectively.

For the Apple Watch Series 3 both the GPS-only and GPS+Cellular models, in 38mm or 42mm, are covered, in Space gray, gold, or silver aluminum. They were sold between September 2017 and September 2019. Finally, the Apple Watch Nike+ Series 3, in GPS-only and GPS+Cellular form, and in both 38mm or 42mm, are covered. They're Space gray or silver aluminum, and were sold between October 2017 and September 2019.

Apple hasn't said what it believes to be causing the display crack, though it appears to be connected to the 3D curved edges of the Apple Watch touchscreen. Those affected will get a free screen replacement, either from Apple itself, or from an Apple Authorized Service Provider.

There are a few provisos, mind. Most pressingly, if your Apple Watch has other damage then Apple might insist on that being repaired before it replaces the cracked display. There may well be a cost involved in that.

The Apple Watch screen replacement program will cover eligible models of the wearable for three years after their first retail sale, or alternatively one year from the start date of the program, whichever is longer. That means the earliest eligible models have until September 2020 to get a repair under the program.

Apple is expected to unveil a new Apple Watch Series 5 later this year, potentially alongside the much-rumored "iPhone 11" in early September. Reports suggest the new wearable could have a titanium or ceramic case.