Fitness tracking with the Apple Watch really kicked in for me a few months ago, and now I’m obsessed with filling the Activity rings and improving my health. So when I woke up Tuesday morning and discovered what looked like a small blotch of blue ink under the glass of my Apple Watch, I sort of freaked out. I have a Move streak going and just a few days left before the Perfect Month achievement in the Activity app kicks in, so I really didn’t want to go a day without my Apple Watch.

Apple Stores still don’t swap out Apple Watches on location even with AppleCare; unlike iPhones, every Apple Watch has to be mailed off for repair or replacement. Thanks to some helpful chat support and AppleCare+, however, I learned a few things and managed not to wreck my streak…

As a heads up, the @AppleSupport Twitter account wasn’t totally helpful, but that’s where I started. I asked if Apple Stores still had to send off every Apple Watch for servicing (they do), but got a canned response about iPhone repairs instead. I clarified that my question was about Apple Watches specifically, and they responded that the same applied for Apple Watch but I should contact my local store to verify any specifics. That’s the step I was trying to avoid. Oh well.

Next, I tried AppleCare chat support online. Anything to avoid making a phone call. ( → select Apple Watch → scroll down and click Get Support → I picked Repairs & Physical Damage → then Accidental or physical damage → then Chat) I explained my situation with the ink blotch display and that it was very important for me to keep up my Move streak and save my Activity data.

At this point, my the issue was getting much worse and fast. Before the night was over, the screen stopped responding so I relied on Siri to start a specific workout in the Workout app and charging the Apple Watch to stop it. But back to AppleCare.

Apple Watch

The chat agent was super helpful. Tech support is never a fun process, but it’s always much better when you get the exact answers you’re looking for. After explaining that I’d like to do whatever it takes to keep my fitness routine going without missing a beat, the chat agent told me about the Express Replacement Watch offer for AppleCare+ customers. I don’t have to replace my Apple Watch every day, so I was out of the loop on this benefit.

My Apple Watch was still working, just on the decline, so AppleCare+ was able to overnight a replacement watch via UPS (1-2 days promised and it arrived about 26 hours after the chat). Understandably, AppleCare requires a temporary credit card authorization until the old Apple Watch is returned (~$600 for stainless steel, man I should have gone Sport).


My new Apple Watch arrived yesterday afternoon, shiny and new, and paired up perfectly with my iPhone. I was still concerned with saving the day’s Activity data up to that point, but even with setting the Apple Watch up as new and not restoring from a backup, my Activity data synced back from the iPhone to the new Apple Watch.

AppleCare even shipped the replacement Apple Watch to a different address at my request which really impressed me (and the chat agent was rather local and recommended local peaches nearby!).

Solid experience. Going from Tuesday morning and not really knowing if I’d be able to save my Move streak to having a replacement Apple Watch on Wednesday afternoon without missing a beat. I don’t always buy AppleCare with every product but did with Apple Watch as I figured I’d use it beyond the one-year mark. It was well worth the $69 in this case given the limitations of the repair process at Apple Stores. If there’s a next time, I can skip the freak out phrase and go right to replacing it ASAP.

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