How to unpair an Apple Watch

Apple Watch unpairing
(Image credit: iMore)

The Apple Watch is an excellent piece of tech, but even great works of tech need a complete restore every now and then. There are two ways to unpair your Apple Watch from an iPhone. You can either perform the task on your smartphone or do it from the actual wearable device. Here are the steps. 

How to unpair an Apple Watch via the Watch app

Whether you want to pair your Apple Watch with a new phone or upgrade to the best Apple Watch, you will need to unpair your Apple Watch from your current iPhone, back up its data, and disable Activation Lock so that it can be set up again. Here's how to unpair an Apple Watch and restore it as needed, first from your iPhone using the Apple Watch app. 

  1. Go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap All Watches at the top of the My Watch screen.
  3. Tap the info button to the right of your current watch.

(Image credit: iMore)
  1. Select Unpair Apple Watch.
  2. Confirm the process by pressing Unpair (watch name).
  3. If you have cellular service, choose to Keep or Remove your plan.

(Image credit: iMore)
  1. Disable Activation Lock by entering your Apple ID password and pressing Unpair.

Your watch will begin backing up your watch's latest data to your iPhone. Once finished, it will unpair itself from your current iPhone, delete all active Bluetooth accessory pairings, remove any Apple Pay cards used on Apple Watch, and wipe the passcode. Finally, your watch will restore itself to Apple's factory settings.

(Image credit: iMore)

How to unpair an Apple Watch directly on the smartwatch

When you unpair your Apple Watch via your iPhone's Watch app, it automatically syncs and backs up the latest data from your smartwatch before restoring it to factory settings. It's the best and smartest way to save your most recent data. 

Unfortunately, unpairing directly from the watch does not create a backup or automatically disable Activation Lock. (And remember, while Activation Lock is enabled, a new user won't be able to set up the Apple Watch.) If you need a current backup, make sure you unpair using the Watch app.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your Apple Watch.
  2. Tap on the General setting.
  3. Select Reset.

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  1. Tap on Erase All Content and Settings.
  2. Type in your passcode (if enabled).
  3. Tap on Erase All (or, if you have a cellular plan and wish to keep it, Erase All & Keep Plan).

(Image credit: iMore)
  1. Once the Apple Watch has finished restoring, navigate to from your computer's web browser to disable Activation Lock.
  2. Sign in with your Apple ID and password.
  3. Click on Settings.

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  1. Select your Apple Watch under My Devices.
  2. Click on the X next to your Apple Watch to remove it.
  3. Click Remove to confirm.

(Image credit: iMore)

Choose your path carefully

As you can see, there are two ways to unpair your Apple Watch from your best iPhone. Of course, the easiest way is through your iPhone. If you aren't near your iPhone and still need to unpair your Apple Watch, you can perform the necessary steps on the Watch as shown above. Apple makes it simple to go through this process and before you know it, you'll have your watch unpaired and ready to go.

Updated July 2022: Updated for the latest version of watchOS.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.

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