Gold Apple Watch keeps on ticking after 9 months underwater

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jerry.rig.1
It's not a Timex, but this Apple Watch keeps on tickin'.
Photo: Zack Nelson

It wasn’t an experiment, but it might as well have been one.

YouTuber Dan Markham lost his limited-edition 24-carat gold Apple Watch Series 4 in deep water almost a year ago. After a failed attempt to find it, he and a colleague hit pay dirt at the bottom of a manmade lake along the Utah-Arizona border.

The rest is a story of resourcefulness and a little cleanup.

Apple Watches are water-resistant (not waterproof, according to Apple), but after nine months at the bottom of the Lake Powell reservoir in southern Utah, few would lay odds it would still be working or even recoverable.

That didn’t stop Markham’s friend Zack Nelson — know as JerryRigEverything on YouTube — from performing some electronic magic to get the device working again.

Apple Watch ER

The fix was just as much an experiment as a repair — with no guarantees of success.

After replacing a dead battery for about $20, delicately cleaning a few rusted contacts with alcohol, and installing a new $15 touch sensor, Markham’s Apple Watch operates like any other, except for a white halo-like ring around the sides of the display. That gives it a certain type of “customized look,” according to Nelson.

“Not too shabby,” he said. “An Apple Watch teardown makes a cellphone teardown look like a cakewalk.”

Nelson thinks the fact that the watch sat in freshwater and not saltwater for the better part of a year helped it survive to live another day. “It was surprisingly very clean,” Nelson said.

After driving four hours to return the watch to Markham personally, Nelson didn’t ask for much in return.

“Oreos, Mountain Dew, or pizza,” he said.

That’s a lot less than what official Apple support would charge.