Glass Only Apple Watch 4 Screen Fix – NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE!

Glass Only Apple Watch 4 Screen Fix – NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE!

So the Series 4 Apple Watch with its rectangular
design and curved glass edges, looks pretty
sleep and pristine unless, of course, it’s
Replacement screens can cost almost as much
as the watch itself unfortunately.
But what if replacing just the top glass
were an option?
Today I’ll show you that replacing just the
glass is indeed an option…while at the same
time showing you why this repair should never
be attempted by mere mortals.
Personally, I’ve tried multiple glass-only
Apple watch repairs before this one, each
time failing catastrophically.
This time around I’ll have some extra help
from a guy who does this on a regular basis.
He’s found a way to make these impossible
repairs possible.
But still, without experience, I’d say about
99% of people who attempt this project will
Now that the pep talk is over, let’s get started.
Removing just the glass on a smart watch or
cell phone is like trying to separate two
potato chips that are glued together without
cracking either one of them.
The concept of course is simple, but the execution
is near impossible.
It’s the brain surgery equivalent of smart
phone repairs.
The initial trick is that the glass curved
edge of the Apple Watch Series 4 does not
have any part of the display panel underneath
it, nor does it have the finger sensing digitizer
under the curve.
It does however have a super fragile square
ring around the bottom edge of the glass that
rests up against the metal for the Force Touch
feature which is kind of essential to the
functionality of the watch.
I’ll show you what that looks like in just
a second.
This is going to be one of those videos you
got to watch all the way through till the
I’m not going to use any heat yet because
heat can damage the Force Touch ring by causing
it to delaminate.
So I’m gently pulling away the tiny cold glass
shards with my fine tip tweezers.
Is this tedious?
But remember we are working around layers
of technology that are more fragile than potato
chips, so slow and steady wins the race.
Once we have these smallest glass chips pulled
away from the frame, we can slide a super
thin piece of stiff plastic between the glass
screen and the Force Touch ring, taking special
care not to damage the fragile ring while
sawing my plastic back and forth to help it
slip under the glass and slice through the
adhesive that’s holding it to the black Force
Touch sensor.
Pulling up a sliver of glass at the wrong
angle can put pressure on the display that’s
under the glass and destroy it.
It’s like trying to diffuse a bomb that could
obliterate the watch at any second.
Also keep in mind that holding down the side
button for too long literally calls the police.
Ask me how I know.
Obviously, the more cracked the glass is,
the easier it is to work on because tiny slivers
of glass can pull away easier.
If the display ends up breaking with black
splotches or the touch sensitivity stops working,
the only option at that point is to replace
the whole screen instead of just the glass,
which is what we’re trying to do here today.
Remember, we still can’t use heat yet because
of that Force Touch ring – it’s still adhered
to the metal frame.
Every now and then I would run into a snag
along the glass edge requiring me to swap
out my piece of plastic or grab my tweezers
to shimmy out another piece of glass.
I’ve been at it for about 45 minutes now,
going slow and removing each bit of glass
These watches are expensive, but if I can
salvage this screen by replacing just the
glass, I can save quite a bit of money.
I’ll add each sliver of glass to my glass
collection off to the side until I have another
opening big enough for the thin piece of plastic.
I’ll pop it in and start slicing between the
glass and the Force Touch ring.
This is a terribly tedious repair that I wouldn’t
wish upon my worst enemy.
It might be stressing you out a little bit
that the watch is still turned on at this
point, but as long as I don’t slice my plastic
too deep into the watch, the inner cables
should be just fine…nothing’s around the
I’m leaving the watch turned on so I can easily
test and see if I’ve broken the internal potato
chips or not.
Once that screen is broken, there’s no point
in continuing and I’m better off just buying
the whole screen replacement instead of just
the glass.
Finally, after removing all the little slivers
of glass and slicing my plastic under the
larger chunks of glass, the whole screen is
loose from the Apple Watch body.
Everything is indeed still working at this
point, which means we haven’t messed up yet.
Cross your fingers it stays that way.
In order to proceed I need something called
a vacuum hot plate.
This beauty can suction down objects while
heating them up to soften the adhesive.
It’s a much more controlled environment than
using my standard heat gun.
And since we’re working with small and delicate
things, it is a needed piece of equipment
for this project.
I have tapped over all the holes but nine
so that we can have all the suction in one
I’ll add another piece of tape over the cracked
Apple Watch screen so air won’t slip through
the cracks and cause it to lose suction…science.
And I’ll also turn off the watch.
Once the machine is turned on it will start
warming up the adhesive that’s holding the
ribbon cables to the back of the screen.
You can kind of see them pulling up right
There are 3 of them all lined up in a row
and this gives us some wiggle room to reach
in and unplug the cables.
The adhesive holding down the black tape over
top of these connectors is incredibly gooey
and sticky and near impossible to remove gently…Thanks
Tim Apple.
Normally alcohol doesn’t solve problems, but
in this particular case, a drop of alcohol
right on top of each of the connectors dissolves
the adhesive, allowing the tape to peel back
a bit easier.
It will become sticky again after the alcohol
Once the tape is peeled back over all 3 connectors,
I can pop the little black latch up at the
top, which unlocks the corresponding cable.
The latches themselves are extremely fragile,
just like everything else we’ve been dealing
with today.
Finally I’ll grab ahold of the ribbons themselves
and the top of the screen, and gently but
firmly pull the ribbons off of the screen.
It’s taken me about an hour to get to this
point in the process and we haven’t even started
the complex part yet.
Going back to our vacuum hot plate screen
separator machine.
This time around I’m going to use some high
tensile strength, super thin gold colored
wire that I’ll wrap around my finger to keep
This wire is going to be placed directly under
the glass layer of the Apple Watch screen,
but above the digitizer and screen layers.
It’s a small fragile sandwich of high tech
components, and if you pick the wrong layer
to slide through, the whole thing is destroyed.
I’m not being dramatic, I’m just being realistic.
You can see the wire sliding and slicing into
one of the gooey layers inside the sandwich
– that’s the adhesive between the glass
and the digitizer, and exactly where we want
the wire to stay.
It’s like trying to separate the two halves
of a very expensive Oreo, but if you break
the cookie part, you lose a couple hundred
I’ll lift the wire over the remaining curved
glass chunks so it won’t get caught on the
edge or start cutting into the sensitive bits,
and then gently keep sliding the wire through
the gooey warmed up adhesive layer.
The whole thing is heated to about 80 degrees
Celsius right now and that’s keeping the Oreo
nice and soft for the wire to slide through.
The suction of the machine is keeping the
watch screen from moving around too much while
the wire is sliding through the adhesive.
Once the wire finishes the cut and pops out
the other side, the screen is loose and fully
free to pull away from that top glass layer.
The cracked glass is now removed from the
You can see some of the adhesive residue on
the digitizer layer which is sitting on top
of the display layer, but that’s pretty easy
to clean off.
Nothing looks physically damaged yet so I
think we’re still good to continue.
The hardest part of the repair is now done…kind
The little bit of rubbery adhesive that is
left on the screen can be gently rubbed off,
keeping in mind that this is like trying to
rub flavor dust off of a Dorito, and one wrong
move can crack the whole thing.
A little bit of acetone can dissolve the rest
of those lines and residue on top of the display.
But before I go any farther, I want to test
and make sure my little Dorito is still in
one piece, so I’ll peel back the tape over
those connectors and pop each of the three
ribbons into their latches on the back of
the screen.
Nudging them into place with the t-shaped
bracket on the back of the ribbon.
I’ll turn everything on.
The Apple Watch should still function at this
point even without the glass in place.
The touch sensitive digitizer is still layered
on top of the screen portion.
Yeah, it will be a tiny bit finicky because
it’s designed to have a glass layer on top,
but the watch should still function in general
at this point.
So far, so good.
I’ll turn the watch off again and remove the
cables from the back of the screen.
Now it’s time to add a new layer of glass
to the top.
This part is pretty easy actually.
Adding the glass requires a special kind of
Once the screen is totally clean from dust
or fingerprints, I’ll grab a little Lego to
prop the screen up.
I’ll explain why in just a second.
I mostly just wanted to say ‘little Lego’
I’ll clean both sides of the replacement glass
and add a dollop of Loca: Liquid Optical Clear
This stuff is pretty cool actually.
It’s what’s going to hold the glass layer
securely to the display.
The important thing when setting the glass
down is that there are no air bubbles caught
under the glass.
I did catch one air bubble during my first
placement, so I pulled that off and popped
it with a pair of fine tipped tweezers and
then tried setting the glass down again for
the second time.
Resting the display on top of the Lego allows
the display to sit up inside the curve of
the glass as it rests down into place.
But once again, I caught a little bubble under
the glass as the adhesive flattened out towards
the edges.
It’s not a huge deal, it just means that I
have to gently persuade that little bubble
to migrate towards the edge of the glass with
a tiny bit of pressure.
This little bit of pressure is also pushing
out glue on the under side of the glass that
I’ll have to clean up later, but as long as
the Loca isn’t getting on the electronics,
I’ll be okay.
The cool part about this glue is that it’s
not going to dry on it’s own, it stays liquid
and gives me plenty of time to clear the bubble
and make sure the display underneath is totally
lined up underneath that glass.
The display needs to be centered evenly on
every side, without any of the copper edges
I can shine a light through the underside
of the display to make sure everything is
proportional, and then I can hit the whole
thing with a UV or ultraviolet light.
These magical rays of artificial sunbeams
are what dries or cures the liquid optical
adhesive that’s holding the glass to the display.
It only takes a few seconds for the glue to
start hardening and then a few more minutes
for the glass to become permanently attached
to the display again.
It’s pretty crazy stuff.
Thumbs up for that.
I do have to clean out the seepage from under
the display from when I pressed out that little
bubble, but once that’s cleaned up I can cure
the underside of the glass to keep the edges
from running, and then we’re pretty much done.
I’ll grab the screen and pop all three of
those ribbons back into their corresponding
latches and lock the fragile flaps gently
down into place.
Then after making sure there’s no glass slivers
or old adhesive or dust resting on that Force
Touch ring, I can make sure everything still
turns on.
I’m just as surprised as you are.
How’s them apples.
The touch sensitivity still seems to be intact.
I’ll make sure to line the antenna tab on
the back of the screen up with the slot on
the motherboard and set the screen down into
place to test the Force Touch.
And it looks like the Force Touch works.
For such a fragile intricate project, we definitely
got lucky.
I can add some water resistant flexible adhesive
to the edge of the display.
I won’t trust the thing to be water resistant
anymore of course, but the adhesive is going
to hold the glass in place, and it’s still
flexible enough to allow the Force Touch to
This is an absolutely brutal repair.
I’ve done this exact same procedure on a few
smart phones in the past so I’m familiar with
the process.
And even with my previous experience, it took
me close to three hours to finish this watch.
This is definitely my first and last successful
glass only Apple watch repair.
If you’re wondering to yourself, ‘Who in their
right mind would want to do this?’
I’ll leave a link in the description to my
buddy who helped me with this repair.
He actually does this repair for other people
on a regular basis.
It’s kind of nice to save a few hundred bucks
by fixing a cracked watch instead of buying
a new one.
Every version of the Apple Watch is going
to be slightly different.
I’m pretty impressed with how good this turned
out though.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go find
some Doritos and Oreo’s that I can go crunch
the crap out of.
Come hang out with me on Instagram and Twitter.
Hit that subscribe button.
And thanks a ton for watching.
I’ll see you around.

100 Replies to “Glass Only Apple Watch 4 Screen Fix – NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE!”

  1. Apple: We used an unbeatable adhesive for the ribbon cables.

    JerryRigEverything: Uses Alcohol

    Apple: We forgot about that one.

    And to be honest I will never try to do this.

  2. This is the tech equivalent of zen meditation. Zach has really skillful hands, I would fuck everything up after the first step

  3. What is free about free society where is normal to have police button in this gadget? Girl button or Mama button or friend button…that sounds like free soc. Wonders never ends. More wonderous that that fact is fact that you speak about it with no wonders-its normal to you. I wonder why will somebody wish to live in country where police is Mama Papa Girl and Friend???

  4. When I got my dad one of these, I really had to push him to get AppleCare+. Without it, this repair is not only difficult (for the employees) but very costly.

  5. As soon as the video ended I realized i was two inches away from my display with my eyes wide open and head tilted down not moving with a 200% concentration level.

  6. Jerry: It took me almmost 3 hrs to finish this.
    Me: It took me 3 days to finish this, and the screen is cracked, touch doesn't work, and my cat's on fire.

  7. So my dad's watch broke in this exact same way. Should i attempt this? If not, how do I get in touch with the 'friend that does this on a regular basis'? I live in India

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