The Apple Watch Ultra has just started arriving in customers’ hands, and unlike previous Apple Watches, it has four exposed screw heads on the bottom of the device. I like to take a look inside my technology, whether it’s for add a thermal pad to a MacBook Air M2 to improve performance or just to see what’s inside to make the technology work. The moment I saw the screws on the bottom of the Apple Watch Ultra, I knew I wanted to take a look inside. But probably shouldn’t have…
The bottom of the Apple Watch has four P5 pentalobe screws. These are the same type of screws that hold the bottom of the MacBook, and although they are not as common as a Philips or flathead screwdriver, pentalobe screwdrivers they are not rare either. After removing those four screws, the first complication arose: there is a very small o-ring around each screw. These are undoubtedly part of the extreme waterproof ratings of Apple’s high-end smartwatch. When I screwed those initial four bolts back on, it was almost impossible to tighten them without the o-ring partially slipping out of place.
Nonetheless, I continued, well aware at this point that some of the watch’s waterproofing might be compromised. With those screws out, the only way to continue was to use a spudger and skinny leggings to separate the ceramic back of the watch from the titanium case. It was well sealed, and the moment it came off, that thin waterproofing was destroyed. Additionally, there are two thin flat cables that connect the back of the watch and all of its health sensors to the battery, display, processor, and watch body. I had to be careful separating the two to avoid damaging the wires.
Removing the back panel didn’t reveal too much of the internals. There was a large black component with the Apple logo on it, but the two buttons used to release the Apple Watch straps came off, and three of the four springs disappeared into the abyss of my carpet.
With the back panel of the watch removed, there was no kind of immediate error from the watch, but understandably, it couldn’t connect to my phone. There were three more screws, this time three-winged, and little metal plates holding that black component together, but once I removed them and started lifting it up, it became clear that it was too big of a task. There seemed to be several flat cables connected to the other side and, from the back of the watch, there didn’t seem to be a good way to disconnect them. Getting to them probably involves removing the screen by smoothing out the adhesive and then using an opening pick to pry it apart. This is how you could access the internals. on earlier Apple watches, but the screen seam on the Ultra didn’t seem to have a great way to open it that I was sure I could do without breaking the screen. The screen on Apple Watch Ultra is sapphire, which, while more scratch-resistant, is potentially more prone to cracking. That’s probably part of the reason Apple extended the watch’s metal body around the flat sides of the display.
At that point, I put everything back together as best I could. It was rather difficult to reconnect the two flat cables attached to the bottom of the device. The buttons to remove the watch strap, now missing some tiny springs, rattle with the watch’s haptics. And the little rubber o-rings around the screw stick out a bit. With the O-rings out of place and the adhesive seal broken, the watch’s waterproofing is certainly nowhere near factory standards. I certainly wouldn’t take it diving at this point.
No doubt in the coming days we will see a more complete disassembly of the watch by the folks at I fix it. I’m sure they’ll go further into the apple watch ultra that I. I’m sure someone with more experience than me could do a better job of disassembling and reassembling the watch without damaging the waterproofing as much, but ouch! I’d certainly recommend waiting for his guide to feed your curiosity, rather than disassemble your own watch, as otherwise you could be left with a non-waterproof (or worse, broken) version of Apple’s most durable smartwatch yet. the moment.
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