This Is a Rare Prototype of the First Apple Watch

A collector has gotten his hands on rare prototypes of the first generation of Apple Watches, and hopes to sell them for thousands of dollars.
April 14, 2020, 12:00pm
An Apple Watch prototype.
Image: Giulio Zompetti

A man who collects rare iPhone prototypes has obtained a few never-seen before early designs of the first generation Apple Watch, dated a year before the release of the actual device.

Giulio Zompetti, a 27-year-old from Northern Italy, told Motherboard that he purchased half a dozen early prototypes of Apple Watch recently, and is planning to fix them and sell them for thousands of dollars. Zompetti declined to say where exactly he purchased the devices from, but said they come from e-waste facilities. The prototypes he obtained are all broken, but key components are still intact, making it possible to repair them, he said.

Some of the watches display a rare logo reminiscent of the Star Wars’ Death Star, a logo that’s been displayed on iPhone prototypes in the past. Zompetti has a history of obtaining rare prototype Apple devices, and he believes these are authentic Apple devices. The markings, QR codes, and logos on them are reminiscent of prototype iPhones Motherboard has seen and used in the past.

Apple Watch prototype.

The inside of an Apple Watch prototype. (Image: Giulio Zompetti.)

As Motherboard reported last year, there’s a thriving underground market for iPhone prototypes, sometimes referred as “dev-fused” devices. Hackers all over the world have spent thousands of dollars to acquire them in an attempt to get their hands on devices that have some key security features disabled, making it a bit easier to hack them and learn how to hack real iPhones.

With these Apple watch prototypes, that’s not what Zompetti is trying to do. For him, the thrill is just to own these rare devices—just like a collector of rare vintage cars.

“This stuff doesn’t have an estimated value,” Zompetti said.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

The QR codes, the “Death Star” logo, and other serial numbers on the watches seem to indicate they are indeed prototypes of the Apple Watch.

Last year, at the Black Hat security conference, Apple announced it would give select security researchers special iPhones with some security features disabled to help them research bug and flaws in the iPhone’s operating system iOS. Months later, however, the company has yet to deliver any devices.

Here’s a gallery of the Apple Watch prototypes Zompetti has acquired.

Apple Watch prototype.

A disassembled Apple Watch prototype. (Image: Giulio Zompetti.)

1586805881021-IMG_1723

A few Apple Watch prototypes. (Image: Giulio Zompetti.)

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An Apple Watch prototype, displaying the "Death Star" logo. (Image: Giulio Zompetti.)

An Apple Watch prototype

An Apple Watch prototype. (Image: Giulio Zompetti.)

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