How to Reset an Apple Watch

Key Takeaways

  • To reset an Apple Watch, open the Watch app on the connected iPhone and tap on “All Watches.” Tap the “i” icon next to the watch in the menu followed by “Unpair Apple Watch.”
  • You’ll be asked for your Apple ID password to remove Activation Lock.
  • To reset without the connected iPhone, on the Apple Watch go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.

If you want to sell or pass your Apple Watch on to someone else, you’ll need to reset it and disassociate it with your Apple ID. Here’s how to complete the process properly.

Why Reset Your Apple Watch?

The Apple Watch requires an iPhone to function, and it remains paired to that iPhone until you initiate a reset. Without resetting your Watch, you won’t be able to pair it with another iPhone. This makes selling or passing your Apple Watch on impossible without following the reset process.

In addition to simply erasing the data on your Apple Watch and severing the bond between it and your iPhone, a proper reset will also remove the wearable from your Apple ID. This anti-theft measure means that it’s impossible to pair an Apple Watch that is still linked to an Apple ID with a new iPhone.

Apple Watch Series 8 being worn on a person's wrist
Tim Brookes / How-To Geek

In addition to selling or passing the Watch on to a family member or friend, there may be other instances when a reset makes sense. If you’re having problems with your Apple Watch and you’ve tried everything else, resetting it could be worth a shot.

It’s also a quick way to remove all saved data from the Watch, including podcasts, music, apps, and so on. Just be sure that you don’t restore a recent Apple Watch backup if you want to start from scratch.

How to Reset Your Apple Watch With an iPhone

If you have access to the iPhone that the watch is paired to, launch the Watch app and tap on “All Watches” in the top-left corner of the screen.


Next, tap on the information “i” button next to the Apple Watch you would like to reset.


Now tap “Unpair Apple Watch” at the bottom of the menu, then confirm your choice again. If you have a cellular model, you’ll be asked whether or not you want to retain your cellular plan. If you intend to pair your Watch with the same iPhone, it’s a good idea to keep it. Otherwise, remove the plan if the Watch is going to a new home.


Finally, enter your Apple ID password to remove Activation Lock, followed by “Unpair” one more time. Your iPhone will back up the Watch, then it will be erased to an “as new” condition. Once the process is complete, you can sell, pass the Watch on, or begin the pairing process with your iPhone again.

How to Reset Your Apple Watch Without an iPhone

If you don’t have access to the iPhone that the Watch is paired to, you can still reset it but there’s an extra step involved to remove Activation Lock. Grab the Watch, unlock it, and head to Settings > General > Reset.

Tap on “Erase All Content and Settings” and then enter a password if prompted to do so.

Tim Brookes / How-To Geek

If you have a cellular model, choose whether to keep your cellular plan (if you’re pairing the Watch with the same iPhone again) or remove it (if you’re selling it or passing it on).

Now tap “Erase All” to confirm and wait for your Watch to reset. Your wearable will not be backed up if you choose this route.

Finally, if the Watch is going to be used by someone else (who has a different Apple ID) you’ll also need to remove the Watch from Find My. You can do this on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac using the Find My app or on the web.

Open a web browser and head to then log in with your Apple ID. Click on “Find My” and then click on the “All Devices” drop-down at the top of the map to select your Apple Watch.


You’ll either see an option to “Erase Apple Watch” (to erase the device remotely, if you haven’t yet done so) or “Remove This Device” to disassociate it from your Apple ID. Remove the Watch from your account to disable Activation Lock, which will allow the Watch to be paired with a new Apple ID.


Be Careful Buying a Used Apple Watch

Activation Lock means that your Apple devices are locked to your Apple ID, effectively turning them into expensive paperweights for would-be thieves. Unfortunately, some will try to sell locked devices, so be careful whenever you buy used Apple gadgets (especially if the seller refuses to turn them on or let you properly inspect them).

Read our guides to buying a used iPhone and things to check before buying a used Mac for more information.


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