creating an analog Apple watch from electronic waste


The YouTuber NanoRobotGeek converted electronic waste from a discontinued Apple watch into a fully functional mechanical timepiece over a span of three months. It all started last December when the creator was looking to buy a conventional Apple Watch. However, upon reflection, he found it unreasonable to invest a substantial amount of money in features that he didn’t really need. He also knew that the typical Apple Watch would inevitably become obsolete within a few years. So, he came up with the idea of crafting himself a mechanical Apple Watch instead as a fun and interesting response to the regular smartwatch. For the past few months, he’s worked hard to make an analog version of the Apple Watch that works properly, and now he shares a video that showcases the effort and creativity invested in bringing this concept to life. (Watch the full video above.)

video: turning e-waste apple watch into a mechanical timepiece
the new watch is seen on the left, and the donor watch is on the right | all images by NanoRobotGeek



Challenging Technology’s Ephemeral Nature


This project is about going against the idea of technology becoming old quickly and not lasting long. Passionate about challenging the usual way things are done and combining old-fashioned skills with modern technology, the YouTuber started a creative journey to breathe new life into second-hand gadgets, showcasing their potential in the contemporary world. 


The creator acquired two inexpensive watches for experimentation before using a better stainless steel one for the final project. Even one of the $1 watches worked after a few hours of tinkering. As for the main watch used in the project, it was functional when bought but had a short battery life. This Apple Watch Series 1 had become unsupported by Apple since 2020, yet its design remained iconic. Despite being considered electronic waste, he purchased it for $50 due to its premium materials and used it for the final outer shell. The aim was to extend its usability by a couple more years.

video: turning e-waste apple watch into a mechanical timepiece
an open back that proves the watch is mechanical



successful disassembly and reassembly of the watch


Throughout the project, the watch was disassembled and reassembled multiple times. Disassembling the watch with precision was challenging but feasible with the right approach. The initial step involved removing both the back and front glass of the watch. By using a combination of heat and isopropyl alcohol, the glue binding the glass was loosened. The glass was carefully detached with the assistance of a suction cup, ensuring utmost care to prevent any damage. Following this, the watch hands were delicately removed, similar to the process used with conventional watches, all while ensuring the dial’s protection.


Subsequently, the screws securing the dial were unscrewed, allowing the dial to be gently lifted from its top left corner. A piece of tape was underneath, designed to accommodate a new component. The movement of the watch required a specific method for detachment. This was achieved by depressing a particular part inside the watch, effectively separating the movement from the stem. The utilization of fine tweezers aided in this meticulous process. Once separated, the movement was extracted from the stem, ensuring the case remained unscathed. video: turning e-waste apple watch into a mechanical timepiece using the outer shell of a discontinued Apple watch


The connection between the movement and the dial was established through adhesive, necessitating careful loosening using either heat or alcohol. With precision, the movement was elevated, taking care not to inflict any damage on the dial. Lastly, a small wheel situated on the watch crown was detached, followed by the unscrewing of bolts associated with a button. This comprehensive procedure facilitated the complete disassembly of the watch. 


After tearing all the old parts down, he put the new watch back together. The YouTuber chose a special movement called Seiko NH38, which is like a tiny engine that works without winding and gets energy from moving around. This movement can keep the watch running for many hours without needing a recharge, making it a special kind of Apple Watch that doesn’t need constant charging. During the reassembly, he made sure the movement fit perfectly inside the watch’s metal body, as well as the buttons worked correctly. By pressing a button and turning a knob at the same time, users could set the time. Once all the essential steps were completed, the watch was finished with transparent covers on its front and back.


After this successful creation, the creator brings fresh ideas to the table, such as transforming an iPad into a wall clock, repurposing an iPhone as a desk clock, or even crafting an iPhone pocket watch.

video: turning e-waste apple watch into a mechanical timepiece

video: turning e-waste apple watch into a mechanical timepiece tearing down the Apple Watch

video: turning e-waste apple watch into a mechanical timepiece
button to stem linkage

video: turning e-waste apple watch into a mechanical timepiece
cutting the Apple logo out of the rotor with fiber laser



project info:


creator: Jack Spiggle, known as NanoRobotGeek