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How to reset and disconnect your Apple Watch

Sometimes spring cleaning means wiping your devices.

Published onJune 6, 2022

If you can’t remember your passcode, (or if you just want to start back at square one), it’s easy to reset your Apple Watch. With a few taps, you can erase your content in the Watch app on your iPhone or from the Apple Watch itself. If you’re looking to pass off or sell though, you will need to unpair the device to restore factory settings. Here are the steps you need to reset your Apple Watch.

Read more: Apple Watch buyer’s guide: Everything you need to know about 


To reset your Apple Watch, open the Watch app on your paired iPhone and locate Reset in the general settings menu. If you don't have your phone on hand, you can also initiate a reset from the watch itself by finding Reset listed in the device's settings app.


How to reset your Apple Watch with an iPhone

Reset your Apple Watch without unpairing for a fresh start or to prepare for an Apple Watch update. This will erase all data, media, and settings, but will not remove the Activation Lock, which keeps anyone but you from using your device.

  • Open the Watch app and tap General. Scroll down and tap Reset.
  • Tap Erase Apple Watch Content and Settings and confirm when prompted.

To remove an Activation Lock from your device, follow the onscreen prompts to enter the Apple ID and password you used to set it up. You cannot remove this lock without your Apple ID unless you contact Apple for assistance and can provide proof of purchase.

Reset your Apple Watch without an iPhone

Erase your Apple Watch right from your wrist. This also won’t remove the Activation Lock, but will give you an otherwise blank slate. Afterward, you will need to pair it with your phone to resume using your device.

  • Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch and scroll down to Reset.
  • Tap Erase All Content and Settings.
  • If you have a watch with cellular data, you’ll be asked if you want to keep your cellular plan. You may also need to contact your carrier to cancel the service. Tap Erase All to confirm.

Resetting a locked device

If you can’t remember your passcode, you can still reset your Apple Watch without your iPhone. Yes, this means someone else could reset your device without the code, but they wouldn’t be able to use it without knowing your Apple ID and password.

  • Place your Apple Watch on its charger.
  • Press and hold the side button until the Power Off slider appears.
  • Press and hold the Digital Crown until a Reset prompt appears, then tap Reset.

How to disconnect your Apple Watch

To unpair your Apple Watch and reset the device to factory settings, you will need access to your iPhone. Unpairing the devices will erase the contents of your Apple Watch and fully remove it from your iCloud account.

  • Open the Watch app and tap All Watches in the top left corner.
  • Tap the info icon (encircled lowercase i) next to the watch you want to unpair.
  • Tap Unpair Apple Watch and confirm when prompted.
  • If you have a model with cellular data, you’ll be asked if you want to keep your cellular plan. If you remove the plan, you may also need to contact your carrier to cancel the service. Tap to confirm.

How to pair Apple Watch to a new iPhone

To pair a new or reset device, strap it onto your wrist. If your iPhone is also new, complete the setup process for the phone first, then connect the phone to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to begin.

  • On your iPhone, open the Watch app and tap Start Pairing. Then choose between Set Up for Myself or Set Up for a Family Member.
  • Turn on your Apple Watch and wait for the pairing screen to appear. Center the device’s pairing screen in your phone’s viewfinder. Tap Set Up Apple Watch and follow the instructions on both devices to finish the pairing.
  • After a short period, a message confirming the pairing should appear on the screen with more options for setting up your device. Follow the onscreen prompts.

For more details about pairing your Apple Watch including common hurdles and how to fix them, read our dedicated guide.

Read more: Want to pair an Apple Watch to an Android phone?

How to force restart your Apple Watch

If you run into trouble turning off your device, you can force your Apple Watch to restart with a soft reset.

  • Hold down the Digital Crown and side button for about ten seconds. The screen should turn off and then restart with the Apple logo centered on the watch face.

Use this option only as a last resort if your device isn’t responding and won’t turn off normally.

Read more: The most common Apple Watch problems and how to fix them


To reset your Apple Watch after too many incorrect passcode attempts, follow the directions above for resetting the watch from your iPhone.

As mentioned above, you can reset your Apple Watch without your passcode from your paired iPhone. You can also soft reset your Apple Watch without a passcode by holding down the Digital Crown and side button for ten seconds.

Recalibrating your Apple Watch after you reset it is a good idea. Doing so ensures you’re getting the best possible fitness and health tracking.

While there are too many reasons why the Apple Watch might not turn on to answer quickly, a force restart is a good first response. Learn more in our guide to Apple watches that won’t turn on.

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