back to article Those screws on the Apple Watch Ultra are a red herring

The Apple Watch Ultra was announced this month with a ruggedized design, new button(!), and a focus on outdoorsy types, but now that the repairability fans at iFixit have their hands on it, they're only concerned about one thing – screws. Apple has always been very keen on its hermetically sealed aesthetics, but this has …

  1. Mike 137 Silver badge


    "If Apple has its heart set on placing the battery beneath the display and above the SIP, it is the screen that should be the easy part to remove, not the backplate"

    Apple obviously (and on cumulative historical evidence) is not committed to repairability. The battery is typically the first component to fail, and when that happens they want you to buy a new watch, not replace the battery.

    1. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

      Re: Priorities

      -> The battery is typically the first component to fail

      Is that right? Not the screen breaking? I don't know, I'm wondering aloud.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Priorities

        Depends how you look at it - if the device (watch, smartphone, laptop etc ) is looked after, not dropped then I would say that the battery will be the first to go.

        If you are a ham-fisted, butter-fingered salesman who doesn't care about company provided property, then yes I would agree with you.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Priorities

      "The battery is typically the first component to fail, and when that happens they want you to buy a new watch, not replace the battery."

      Since you can get an average of 24 months of reliable usage from those batteries (cells, really), Divide the cost of the watch by 24 and see how much you are renting that watch for each month. Now, wouldn't it make more sense to take that money and add it to your house/car/credit card payment rather than just increasing the balance on that credit card?

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: Priorities

        The equation is dividing $99 by 24 months; as that's the cost of replacing the battery. That's just over $4/month assuming it's dead in 24 months, which it isn't. My AW series 2 battery has only recently started to not make it through a full day, nearly 6 years on ($1,37/month).

        Before I had my Apple Watch, I had a Tissot T-Touch and an Oris F1. The T-Touch chewed through batteries (I seem to remember it had 2?) and my local watch shop charged me €30 to replace it/them and make the watch waterproof again. Compared to this, $99 to replace an AWUltra battery is not a bad deal.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Priorities

      To be fair <spit!> to Apple, although replacing the battery ought to be easy, would YOU replace the battery in an expensive watch rated to 100m water depth and still trust it to be waterproof to 100m? Likewise, apart from the battery, the vast majority of people would never attempt to repair their own watch, digital or analogue. The more costly the watch, the more likely to take it to a specialist repair technician with years of training and experience.

      I'm no expert with expensive watches (anything that tells the time +/- a few minutes per day is good enough for me), and certainly not with "divers" watches, which I assume are the sort of watches normally rated to 100m depth, so do correct me if I'm wrong about the ease of replacing a battery in a 100m rated watch.

      1. Cuddles

        Re: Priorities

        Indeed, I've always had waterproof watches for swimming, and I'd never consider attempting to replace the battery myself rather than taking it to a proper repair place. There's really no alternative to fiddly gaskets when it comes to sealing things.

        That said, pretty sure every watch I've owned could have the battery changed by simply unscrewing the backplate. Keeping it waterproof after you've put it back together might take some care, but at least it's a simple job in principle. Having to hack your way through the display in order to do anything seems a pretty poor design choice even before you start worrying about waterproofing.

      2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: Priorities

        My local watch shop has always offered both options; a straight battery replacement for around a tenner, or battery+waterproofing for €30. Puts the $99 replacement charge for an AW battery into a different perspective.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "We're thankful the adhesive isn't more aggressive, but replacing this meticulous gasket to seal your Watch back up will be no fun at all,"

    I'm guessing that they've never taken anything apart with 100m rating before. Do they think it's Steve Jobs' tears that make it water proof?

    1. Spamfast

      Re: Muppets

      I'm guessing that they've never taken anything apart with 100m rating before. Do they think it's Steve Jobs' tears that make it water proof?

      That's 10 atmospheres.

      I have a thirty year old Tissot watch that is 100m ratred and yet my horologist can remove & replace the backplate to change the battery while maintaining its integrity.

      1. GraXXoR

        Re: Muppets

        I should bloody well hope a horologist could open a watch. Since they literally design and make watches for a living.

      2. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Muppets

        It's not just 100m rated (which is a rather meaningless number). It is actually supposed to work at 40m depth; that's a totally different calibre.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Muppets

        "I have a thirty year old Tissot watch that is 100m ratred and yet my horologist can remove & replace the backplate to change the battery while maintaining its integrity."

        The comparison is with people doing the own repairs. Would you do that with your "thirty year old Tissot"?

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Muppets

      "I'm guessing that they've never taken anything apart with 100m rating before"

      What's the point of having that sort of depth rating. Do these watches even function underwater? A sport scuba diver is never going anywhere near 100m and the temp that deep means a commercial diver is going to be wearing gloves and typically a dry suit. 10m meter is often more than suitable and 33m about as premium as any normal (non-commercial diver) would need. That covers splashes and forgetting the watch just as you might be jumping into a pool or spa. If you lose the watch in 100m of water, just kiss it goodbye.

      1. General Purpose

        Re: Muppets

        Never mind swimming, how about passing a watch under a cold tap (faucet in the US?). Round here, domestic water pressure's about 40m.

        1. PRR Bronze badge

          Re: Muppets

          > a watch under a cold tap.... <snip>..domestic water pressure's about 40m.

          Yes, 40m/60psi *in the pipe*. I can't fit my wrist in a kitchen water pipe. The water company doesn't want me swimming in their mains. When hand-washing, the water pressure on your hand/watch is practically zero (ambient). It has velocity and momentum and this is an issue in "NEMA" enclosures for electrical work; there's rain-rated, splash-rated, and power-wash-rated.

          It does seem Apple claims pressures which would crush a good submarine. Ocean trenches, the Final Frontier?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Muppets

            "Yes, 40m/60psi *in the pipe* with the valve shut."

            Fixed that slightly, no charge. Have a beer.

      2. Is It Me

        Re: Muppets

        This is one can function underwater and you can rent a dive computer app for it (monthly or annually), or just use it as a depth gauge straight out of the box without any extra apps.

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: Muppets

          @Is It Me

          You're right. The downvotes are from pissed off Garmin or Suunto users who just realised the AW Ultra is better than theirs; for the first time.

      3. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Muppets

        This watch is supposed to be _used_ at 40m depth. Like telling you the depth, dive time etc.

      4. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: Muppets

        WR100 means 100m static depth, i.e. not moving. Meaningless in real life. Apple didn't just quote that though, unlike most manufacturers; they also said it's diveable to 40m. i.e. you can actually dive, swim and use it at 40m. That's impressive.

  3. Spamfast

    In the UK we've recently had a tariff applied to single-use supermarket carrier bags. Retailers have to accept dead batteries for recyling. In Germany & Denmark pretty much all glass & plastic bottles & aluminium cans are required to be sold with a deposit that can be reclaimed from any store.

    Maybe we need a deposit on non-repairablable tech - send it back and get your 10% refund?

    1. Tom66

      And what would Apple do with whatever they take back? It all just ends up as e-waste

      The solution isn't to get better at recycling, it's to reduce the amount that needs to be recycled in the first place. There's no good reason a smartwatch can't last as long as a regular watch, with normal servicing.

      I don't mind having to replace a battery in my "gadgets", but I do mind when that process is made very difficult and expensive, or limited to service personnel.

      1. John McCallum


        And what would Apple do with whatever they take back? It all just ends up as e-waste The disosal of eWaste would be Apples problem in that case.

        1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          Re: eWaste

          And once you make the cost of the take-back prohibitive, perhaps they would finally, grudgingly, implement basic repairability for screens, batteries and charge connectors.

      2. Martin

        There's no good reason a smartwatch can't last as long as a regular watch, with normal servicing.

        But then how do I show my friends a brand new shiny-shiny every couple of years?

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "But then how do I show my friends a brand new shiny-shiny every couple of years?"

          I show my friends a free pint and they are fantastically loyal. Think of how many pints one of those watches costs vs how many new friends you could make at the local.

          1. GraXXoR

            Lucky you where I live, one of those watches is probably worth less than 20 trips to my lock bar.

            At twice a week, that’s less than three months’ worth of “social” eating and drinking.

            My last Apple Watch has lasted me five years, a much better value proposition than drinking.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "or limited to service personnel."

        If I'm out and about and find I need a new battery in my watch (analog), I'm not above having somebody do it for me at the mall. They have the right tools so they don't leave marks and do it so often that it takes a couple of minutes. They also likely have the correct battery on hand so I don't have to first take the watch apart and then visit several shops to find the correct battery of a good quality. Watch batteries are not a place to be using Won Hung Lo cells that tend to leak after a couple of weeks. Spend the extra 50p for the name brand.

      4. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        "There's no good reason a smartwatch can't last as long as a regular watch, with normal servicing."

        With a new battery every now and then, it will. A Series 1 still works, and will continue to work for as long as you feed it batteries - you just can't use many new features so you're stuck with the launch set of features. But then you would be with a normal watch as well.

  4. Hull

    I miss the Reg asking Apple for comments

    Apple's inacceptable behaviour towards serious journalism should not be normalized.

  5. Eponymous Bastard


    Or we could just stop buying shit, especially shit with a fucking apple on it.

    1. Richard Jones 1

      Re: Stop

      Does that make it a'crapple'?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stop status smell

        It's a subspecies of the parent species "Malus foetidissima"

        1. Swarthy

          Re: Stop status smell

          Malum malum?

  6. DS999 Silver badge

    Do any analog watches

    With a depth rating of 100m have easy repairability? That's getting to be fairly high pressure, so a watch - whether it is filled with electronics or tiny fiddly gears - would need to be sealed up quite tight to insure the water stays out. Making something so small rated to that depth repairable is not going to be easy.

    I mean, are there are a lot of people doing DIY repairs on their Rolex?

    It is fine to criticize them for laptops that are difficult to repair etc. as there is no good reason for it, but worrying about a watch rated to gas mixture depths may be taking things too far.

    1. Is It Me

      Re: Do any analog watches

      Relatively easy and people can do them at home, but more importantly pretty much any jewellers or watch shop can do a 100m/200m battery replacement and a decent number can even do a pressure test afterwards.

      There are a fair few dive computers (and I have one of them) where replacing the battery is a user task as they are designed with a battery compartment that is sealed from the rest of the device, admittedly these were noticeably bigger and thicker than a smart watch

    2. Jan 0 Silver badge

      Re: Do any analog watches

      It's not difficult at all if the designer understands how O-rings work. I have two 1970s diving watches going strong. One is self winding, so has only been opened once, the other needs a battery every 5(?) years.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do any analog watches

      Well I replace the batteries in my watch with no problems at all. The watch industry solved the waterproof but servicable problem 70 years ago.

      This thing has 32 screws inside, but we can't make it repairable?


  7. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Well I'm still not paying the iDiot tax.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I daily a 40 year old Seiko quartz

    Battery changes are rare but easy to do.

    It’s probably not waterproof anymore but it still works a treat.

    It’s been all over the world, white-water rafting, sailing, diving, Everest base camp, deserts, etc.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who wears a watch anymore?

    1. Zebo-the-Fat

      Me, I don't feel dressed without a watch. ~It goes on when I get up in the morning and comes off when I go to bed. No need to mess about pulling my phone out of my pocket every time I want a quick time check, so much easier. (but then I'm classed as an official old fart!)

      1. jake Silver badge

        I haven't worn a watch since I took off my HP-01 in late 1977 or early 1978.

        No need. There has been a clock in sight every time I've needed one for the last 45 years or so. Granted, the deepest diving I've done in that time frame has been scraping boat hulls, changing zincs and through-holes, and clearing the odd prop ... (I'm pretty sure I too am allowed to wear an Old Fart hat).

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "I haven't worn a watch since I took off my HP-01 in late 1977 or early 1978."

          There's never been any need to wear any sort of tie or tassaly bits on our socks but guys do when dressed up. An analog watch just fits the ensemble better than any sort of digital thingy. I stopped wearing a watch on a daily basis when I started playing drums a lot. The shock turned the insides of those cheap Swatches into an extra rattle. I didn't want to test how well any of the nicer watches I'd been given would hold up.

          1. jake Silver badge

            The last time I put on a suit and tie was when I got married (MeDearOldMum insisted on "nice" family photos. If tied down and forced to talk, I'll admit that I'm glad she did. Made the family happy.)

            The next time I put on a suit and tie will be when they put me in a box. Somebody will have to donate the suit and tie. I don't own any.

            The last 9-5 I interviewed for (in 1989), I was wearing my racing leathers. When the interviewer queried my choice of "uniform", I pointed out that he had asked me to drive up from Palo Alto to South San Francisco by 10AM ... and had called at 9AM. I knew I could make it on the bike, but there was no way I was driving the Bayshore without armor ... I got the job.

            The 9-5 prior to that, I wore the same outfit, for similar reasons. When queried, I responded along the lines of "are you hiring an engineer or a fashion plate?" ... They made me an offer. I counter offered, they hired me at my price point ...

            Around these here parts, dangly bits on socks would be attacked & killed by the cats.

      2. Martin

        Hear hear. I HATE those rare days that I forget to put my watch on. You feel such a pillock looking at a blank wrist to find out the time.

        And my watch was my 40th birthday present from my wife - it's nice to be reminded of that every time I want to know the time.

  10. ICL1900-G3

    Eight hundred bucks!?

    You could get a real watch for that. One with a winder. An elegant watch that did not say 'look, I'm a cool dude'.

  11. Colin Wilson 2

    Battery Replacement Program - Fail!

    On the face of it, Apple’s Battery Replacement Program lets you have the batteries replaced in almost all Apple devices, by their qualified engineers (Geniuses?) at a fairly reasonable cost.

    But it’s not that simple.

    First, you have to prove that, by their metrics, the battery needs replacing. And they will then only replace batteries on devices that they haven’t declared ‘Obsolete’ - which typically means 4 or 5 years old.

    So in practice you have a small window - if any - between the battery falling before their threshold and it becoming ‘obsolete’. So you’re left with an otherwise perfectly functioning gadget that you must throw away - simply because it needs a new battery.


  12. Jemma


    £800/$800 for a watch is the first thing...

    And I'm sorry but how retarded/insane do you have to be to believe that Cr-apple will actually allow anyone to fix their shite. They were building beige macs out of razor blades years ago and it's been the same ever since. Overpriced irreparable crap time after time after time..

    The definition of insanity is going through the same thing and expecting a different result.

    My family have bought clapped out second hand Idiotphones (to replace reasonable £150 droids) for twice the price of a decent android and I quote "cos I'm too dumb to use android". It's the final reason we're done - and I'm so happy to be done with the stupid...

    The day Cr-apple allow self repair is the day Satan goes to work on a snowplough.. If you don't realise this by now, you need to stay out of the gene pool (think of the children)..

    PS I still have a working E70 I wrote two books on.

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