The Apple Watch is a great piece of tech, but even great pieces of tech need a complete restore now and again. Whether you want to pair your Apple Watch with a new phone, restore it to factory settings to troubleshoot it, or plan to pass it on to a new owner, you're going to need to unpair it from your current iPhone, back up its data, and disable Activation Lock so that it can be set up again.

How to unpair your Apple Watch via the Watch app

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

  5. Confirm the process by pressing Unpair [watch name].
  6. If you have cellular service, choose to Keep or Remove your plan.

  7. Disable Activation Lock by entering your Apple ID password and pressing Unpair.
  8. Your watch will now begin backing up your watch's latest data to your iPhone. Once it's 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.

  9. Once this has finished, make a backup of your current iPhone if you want to make sure your Apple Watch data is safe and secure.

It'll take a few moments to back up your Apple Watch and complete the sync and wipe process. Once finished, however, the Apple Watch will have been reset to its factory default settings, and you can proceed.

How to unpair your Apple Watch directly on the smartwatch

Note: 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. Unpairing directly from the watch does not create a backup, nor does it 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 absolutely 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.

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

  7. Once the Apple Watch has finished restoring, navigate to from your computer's web browser to disable Activation Lock.
  8. Sign in with your Apple ID and password.
  9. Click on Settings.

    Signing into iCloud on Apple Watch

  10. Select your Apple Watch under My Devices.
  11. Click on the X next to your Apple Watch to remove it.
  12. Click Remove to confirm.

    Removing a device on Apple Watch

Any Apple Watch unpairing questions?

Any questions about unpairing your Apple Watch? Let us know in the comments!

Updated September 2018: Updated for Apple Watch Series 4.

Originally written September 2017 by Serenity Caldwell.

Apple Watch