The right-to-repair enthusiasts at iFixit have published a video providing a screw-by-screw breakdown of the Apple Watch Ultra. The entire video serves less as a review of the capabilities of the Ultra and more of an intimate examination of the tech and engineering that goes into Apple’s powerful timepiece.
iFixit’s breakdown exposed some vulnerabilities in the Apple Watch Ultra, not only in terms of its repairability but also its durability. The raised lip of the Ultra, which is intended to protect the screen, only really works against side-on impacts. As the video points out, any kind of head-on collision with the screen still risks a screen replacement. Getting to the battery on the Ultra requires you to remove the screen rather than the backplate, which is disappointing when we’re shown how difficult it is to swap out the screen without damaging the OLED display in the process.
Additionally, when removing the ceramic backplate of the Ultra, the gasket that keeps the insides of the Ultra dry during dives is essentially destroyed. Replacing the gasket doesn’t look like an easy task, either, and will require careful installation to maintain the Ultra’s 100-meter depth rating.
Previous Apple products have been notoriously finicky when it comes to repairs done by anyone other than Apple, and the Ultra doesn’t buck that trend. However, the exposed screws holding the backplate to the Ultra definitely provide a more optimistic outlook on how Apple could make its devices easier to repair in the future.
While it's clear that Apple still doesn’t want the rank and file mucking about in its devices, the closing remarks of the video gush about the precision engineering and care that went into the design of the Apple Watch Ultra, and I’m inclined to agree. Even as someone who has never owned an Apple Watch and likely never will, I still found iFixit’s dissection and unique analysis to be fun to watch, even if only to find out how many screws hold the whole thing together. It’s 32, by the way.