How to backup (and restore) your Apple Watch

We explain what data is stored and how you can access it
Wareable 33865-original
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Backing up the Apple Watch is quite different from how you might expect, with your settings and data stored through your connected iPhone, and not on the smartwatch itself.

That means those who want to restore an Apple Watch from backup will be doing so from the data stored in iCloud (or iTunes) when the iPhone is backed up.

So, if you have upgraded to a new Apple smartwatch and want to sync the settings, data, and more from your old Watch, this will need to take place from the iPhone you set the older model up with.

Below, we'll not only tell you how to back up Apple Watch, but also exactly what's carried over when you restore.

How to back up your Apple Watch


As we just explained, since Apple Watch backup is tied to the iPhone. It's done automatically to your paired iPhone, so you don't need to do anything to have your Apple Watch backed up.

When you unpair your Apple Watch, a backup will be saved to the iPhone automatically. That means when you come to set up your new Watch (or existing Watch again), there will be a backup waiting for you.

However, you will want to ensure your iPhone is backed up. If you lost your phone and Watch for whatever reason, then you'd have no backups at all. To do this:

1. Go to Settings on the iPhone.

2. Tap the top section, which includes your Apple ID and iCloud settings.

3. From here, tap iCloud and scroll down to iCloud Backup.

4. This will give you the option to turn on automatic iCloud Backup - which we would recommend - and also the option to manually back the device up then.

5. Once you've backed up the iPhone, the latest settings and data on your Apple Watch will be included in the backup.

There is an alternative method, if you don't want to perform a manual backup of your Watch. When you unpair your Apple Watch, the iPhone will automatically take a backup of the settings and data. Then, when you come to pair a new device, you'll be able to sync over this backup.


How to restore your Apple Watch

Restoring an Apple Watch backup is done during the setup process. So ensure your old Apple Watch is unpaired properly, and then go through this setup process:

1. Cycle through the setup screens, which include holding the iPhone so the Apple Watch is visible in the camera's viewfinder, selecting language, choosing the Watch's orientation, and making a passcode.

2. You'll then be asked to either set up the Apple Watch as a new device or to restore from an old backup.

3. Select the option to restore from backup. If done correctly, this should be the latest backup performed from the iPhone.

Apple Watch backup data – what's stored (and what isn't)


Most of the general system settings are saved when you perform a backup of your Apple Watch via the iPhone, though here's a complete rundown of what exactly will be restored:

  • System settings - such as how you set up brightness, sound, haptic feedback sensitivity, Siri and notifications.
  • Built-in app history - for example, your setup for Mail and Calendar.
  • The Apple Watch's home screen layout.
  • Your current watch face, customizations and saved faces.
  • The order of the dock, and whether this is sorted by favorites or recent apps.
  • Playlists and albums synced from Apple Music to Apple Watch.
  • Time zone.
  • Apple Photos you synced across.
  • Apple Health and Fitness data, including workout history, achievements and the Apple Watch calibration data used to improve accuracy. For this, you need to restore from an iCloud backup or an encrypted iTunes backup.

Not everything is backed up, however, with some data and settings omitted from the above selection. They include:

  • Bluetooth pairings.
  • Credit or debit cards using Apple Pay.
  • Apple Watch passcode.

More Apple Watch guides

TAGGED Apple Watch

How we test

Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

Related stories