The Apple Watch Ultra has just arrived in the hands of customers, and unlike previous Apple watches, the device has four exposed screw heads on the bottom. I like to look inside my technology Add a thermal pad to your M2 MacBook Air to see what’s inside to improve performance or just make the technology work. As soon as I saw the screws on the bottom of the Apple Watch Ultra, I knew I wanted to take a look inside. But I probably shouldn’t have…

There are four P5 pentalobe screws on the bottom of the Apple Watch. These are the same type of screws on the bottom of the MacBook, and although they’re not as common as a Philips or flat head screwdriver, pentalobe screwdrivers is also not unusual. After I removed these four screws, the first complication occurred – each screw has a very small o-ring around it. These are certainly part of the extreme water resistance ratings of Apple’s high-end smartwatches. When I went to screw those original four screws back in, they were nearly impossible to tighten without the o-ring partially slipping out of place.

Nevertheless, I was well aware that some of the waterproofing of the watch could be compromised. When these screws were removed, the only way to proceed was to use a spudger and slim pants to separate the ceramic watch back from the titanium case. It was well sealed and the thin waterproofing was destroyed the moment it was pulled. Additionally, there are two thin ribbon cables that connect the back of the watch and all of its health sensors to the watch’s battery, display, processor, and case. I had to be careful when disconnecting the two to avoid damaging the cables.

Open your Apple Watch Ultra

Removing the back panel didn’t reveal 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 bands came off and three of the four springs disappeared into the abyss of my carpet.

With the back of the watch removed, the watch didn’t have any immediate faults, but it understandably failed to connect to my phone. There were three more screws – this time three-bladed – and small metal plates holding that black component in place, but when I started to remove them and lift them, it became clear that this was a bit of a big deal. There seemed to be a lot of ribbon cables attached to the other side of it, and there didn’t seem to be a good way to disconnect them from the back of the watch. Getting to them is likely by removing the screen by loosening the adhesive and then using the unlock option to detach it. So you can access the internals on previous Apple watches, but the seam of the display on the Ultra didn’t seem like a great way to open it, which I was sure I could do without breaking the screen. The Apple Watch Ultra’s display is sapphire, which, while more scratch-resistant, is potentially more prone to cracking. That’s probably part of the reason why Apple stretched the watch’s metal body around the flat sides of the screen.

Then I put everything together as best I could. Reconnecting the two ribbon cables attached to the bottom of the device proved quite difficult. The buttons to remove the watchband, now missing some little springs, jingle with the watch’s haptics. And the little rubber o-rings around the screw stick a little. With the o-rings dislodged and the adhesive seal broken, the waterproofing of the watch is certainly nowhere near factory standards. I certainly wouldn’t accept scuba diving at this point.

Undoubtedly, in the coming days, we will see a more complete dismantling of the clock from the people iFixit. They will surely go further Apple Watch Ultra than I did. I’m sure someone more skilled than me could do a better job of disassembling and reassembling the watch without damaging the waterproofing too much, but alas. Of course, I’d recommend waiting for their guide to pique your interest rather than tearing your own watch apart, because otherwise you’ll be left with a non-waterproof (or worse, broken) version of Apple’s most durable smartwatch yet.

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