Apple Watch reset: How to unpair, restore factory settings and pair to a new iPhone

Learn to start again with your Apple Watch – whether you have your old iPhone or not

Despite being a remarkably consistent beast, you'll no doubt have to reset the Apple Watch at some point during your time with it.

And whether it's the Series 3, Series 4 or an older Apple Watch, the process detailed below for resetting, erasing data, unpairing or pairing to a new iPhone is much the same. However, with each of these avenues entailing different steps, make sure to skip ahead to your preferred route. Here's what we'll be talking through below:

  • How to unpair Apple Watch
  • How to erase Apple Watch data
  • How to pair Apple Watch
  • How to pair Apple Watch if you do have your old iPhone
  • How to pair Apple Watch if you don't have your old iPhone

How to reset the Apple Watch

How to reset Apple Watch

If you're having issues with the Apple Watch, sometimes the only way to get things working again is to give it a full reset. However, there's not actually an option to factory reset the Apple Watch. Instead, the steps below will help you unpair from your Watch and erase its data, which is essentially the same as a factory reset.

Unpair from Apple Watch

Unfortunately, you can't simply unpair from the Watch itself – for that, you're going to need a connected iPhone present.

1. On the iPhone, go to the Watch app and open the My Watch tab.

2. Tap the Watch at the top of the screen.

3. Tap the 'I' icon and then hit Unpair Apple Watch.

4. Confirm your carrier settings so that you'll be free to pair you device to any new iPhone.

Erase data on Apple Watch

Erase any of your data on the Apple Watch by heading to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings on the device itself.

Apple Watch pairing

How to pair Apple Watch

Pairing mode on the Apple Watch will be prompted automatically when a device isn't assigned to an iPhone, but below are the steps if you're having trouble – especially if you do or don't have your old iPhone present.

Of course, you'll need to make sure your Apple Watch is trying to pair with an iPhone running the latest software, and that it's actually compatible. For reference, the Apple Watch Series 3 (Cellular) or later will work with the iPhone 6 or later, and the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS only) or later will work with the iPhone 5s or later.

How to pair the Apple Watch

Once you've turned your Apple Watch on, make sure Bluetooth is enabled on the iPhone and the two are close together, and you'll be prompted to hold your iPhone over the animation moving on the watch face, as shown in the image above. From here, the setup process begins as follows:

1. Choose to set up as a new Apple Watch or restore from a backup.

2. Sign in with your Apple ID.

3. Choose your settings. Your Apple Watch will mirror the settings of your iPhone, such as Find my iPhone, Location Services, Wi-Fi Calling, Diagnostics and Siri.

4. Create or skip making a passcode.

5. Set up cellular (if available) and apps.

6. Wait for the the Apple Watch and iPhone to sync and complete pairing.

How to pair Apple Watch to a new iPhone

How to pair Apple Watch to a new iPhone

Maybe you lost your old iPhone, or maybe you've just upgraded – whatever the reason, it's fairly simple to pair Apple Watch to a new iPhone. To do so, you'll need to make sure, again, you have your Apple ID at the ready, that both devices are able to connect to the same Wi-Fi network, both are at least 50% charged and that you remember any Apple Watch passcode previously assigned to it.

It's also important to note that the steps do differ depending on if you still have access to your old device or not.

If you do still have your old iPhone and want to pair the Apple Watch:

1. Update your old iPhone and the Apple Watch to the latest software.

2. Back up your old iPhone and go to the My Watch tab in the iPhone's Watch app to unpair your selected device.

3. Begin setting up the new iPhone.

4. Open the Apple Watch app on your new iPhone and follow the pairing steps outlined above – you'll likely want to restore from backup if picking up on a new iPhone.

5. To make sure your Health data syncs across to the Apple Watch, it'll have to be turned on in Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Health.

If you don't have your old iPhone and want to pair the Apple Watch to a new iPhone:

1. Erase data from the Apple Watch, as outlined in the section above.

2. Set up your iPhone and sign into iCloud, then open the Watch app and pair your device with the new iPhone.

3. Attempt to restore from backup, after you've updated the OS on both devices. You'll lose Activity, Workouts and settings changes on the watch that occurred between your backups.

4. Follow the on-screen setups and finish setting up the Apple Watch on the new iPhone. Apple states that you might have to wait a few days for all your iCloud data to appear.


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