You may find the need to factory reset your Apple Watch in order to tackle a problem or because you’re readying it for its new owner after a sale or a gift — and that means you’ll need to unpair it from any connected devices. If you’re faced with parting ways with your beloved Apple Watch — whether it be an Apple Watch Series 5, Series 4, or an older model — you’ll want to make sure it no longer contains any of your personal data and can no longer connect to any of your other iOS devices. Apple has made the process quite straightforward.
Step 1: Prepare your devices
Make sure your Apple Watch and iPhone (or other iOS devices compatible with the Apple Watch app) are charged and close together before you begin. The unpairing process will erase all content and settings on your Apple Watch, making it safe to sell, give away, or recycle.
You may be wondering what happens to all that personal data. Apple creates a backup of your Watch data and stores it in iCloud. If you pair your account with a new Apple Watch, all that data can be transferred over, so you won’t lose anything important and can restore your backup if you plan on getting another Apple Watch sometime in the future. This makes the process ideal if, for example, you damaged your Apple Watch but intend to replace it.
Step 2: Navigate to the correct Watch on the Apple Watch app
Once you’re ready, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone — this is the app you use to manage settings for your Watch. Select the My Watch tab to view all Watches that are connected to your device. Tap the Watch that you want to unpair.
Step 3: Unpair the Apple Watch and confirm
You should see a small info button to the right of the Watch name, marked by an “i” in a circle. Tap on this icon, and you will be taken to another screen where you can choose to either find a missing Apple Watch or unpair your Watch. Select the Unpair option and prepare to enter your Apple ID and password.
Step 4: Consider your data plan
You’ll want to keep in mind that starting with the Series 3, Apple Watch offered cellular-compatible models. If you own one of these, then you likely have a cellular plan attached to it with your chosen provider. (If you don’t, then skip this step.) If you do have one of these plans, then you’ll be asked by the app if you want to keep it or remove it. If you think you might pair this Watch with another iPhone in the future, then you’ll want to keep it. If you’re planning on buying a new model and you want to use this plan with the new Apple Watch, or if you are planning on leaving the Apple Watch life altogether, you should remove the data plan. If you don’t want to use this plan with a new Watch, then remember to also contact your carrier to cancel your cellular plan subscription.
No iPhone handy? Do this instead
If you don’t have your iPhone or can’t navigate to the Apple Watch app on another device, you can still wipe the Apple Watch with this method. The only problem is that it doesn’t remove Activation Lock, so we’ll explain how to do that in the final step.
Step 1: On your Apple Watch, head to Settings. In the General section, choose Reset.
Step 2: Confirm that you want to Erase All Content and Settings.
Step 3: You may have to make some choices about your data plan at this point. If you don’t want to use your cellular plan with this particular Apple Watch in the future, remove it. Confirm that you want to erase all content. This will unpair your Watch and restore it to factory settings.
Step 4: Your Apple Watch is wiped, but the Activation Lock has to be removed before anyone else will be able to use it. To do this go, to iCloud.com on a computer or laptop and sign in. Click on Find iPhone > All Devices, and choose your Apple Watch. Click Remove From Account. You’re done! It’s now safe to pass your Apple Watch on to someone else.