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How to unpair an Apple Watch

Upgrade your smartwatch or get it ready for a new owner, with or without your iPhone.

Photo by Will Shanklin / Engadget

If you upgrade to a new Apple Watch — or sell, trade or give away your current model for any other reason — you’ll want to unpair and factory-reset the old one before handing it over. Since Apple Watches are more like iPhone sidekicks than truly standalone devices, the process differs from factory-resetting an iPhone or iPad. Here’s how to unpair and reset your Apple Watch to prepare it for a fresh start with a new owner.

The instructions for unpairing your Apple Watch (which also factory-resets it) vary depending on whether you have your iPhone and Apple Watch with you. If you don’t have the Apple Watch on you, you can still reset it and remove the Find My / Activation Lock, which will allow a new owner to set it up under their account. (It’s just a little more complicated.) We break down the steps below.

How to unpair and reset your Apple Watch

Screenshot of the
Screenshot of the (Screenshot by Will Shanklin / Engadget)
  1. With your Apple Watch and iPhone nearby and online, open the Apple Watch app on your phone.

  2. Ensure you’re on the My Watch tab at the bottom of the screen, and then tap All Watches at the top.

  3. Tap the “i” button next to your Apple Watch. (If you have more than one watch paired with your phone, ensure you select the one you want to unpair.)

  4. Select Unpair Apple Watch at the bottom of the info screen for your Apple Watch. Tap Unpair Apple Watch when the confirmation pop-up appears.

  5. If you have a cellular-capable model, it will prompt you to choose whether to keep or remove its wireless plan. (If you won’t use the watch again, choose Remove, and it’ll let you add it to a new model if you set it up.)

  6. Enter your Apple ID password to turn off Find My / Activation Lock.

  7. Select Unpair.

This will begin unpairing the Apple Watch from your iPhone and Apple ID, removing Find My and Activation Lock. After completing the process, your watch will be factory reset, and you can safely sell, trade or give away the old model.

How to unpair your Apple Watch without an iPhone

Photo of an Apple Watch on a man's left wrist. Its screen says
Photo of an Apple Watch on a man's left wrist. Its screen says (Photo by Will Shanklin / Engadget)

The steps are slightly different if your Apple Watch is with you, but your iPhone isn’t. First, you’ll factory-reset the watch on the device:

  1. On your Apple Watch, open the Settings app, then go to General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.

  2. Enter your Apple Watch’s passcode when prompted.

  3. If you have a cellular-capable model, it will ask if you want to keep or remove the watch’s wireless plan. (If you won’t use the watch again, choose Remove, and it’ll let you add it to a new model if you set it up.)

  4. Select Erase All to wipe the watch’s data.

Then, to get the Apple Watch ready for a new owner, you’ll need to perform one more step in a web browser:

  1. Navigate to iCloud’s Find My page.

  2. Sign in with your Apple ID username and password (or use Touch ID or Face ID if you’re using your own Apple device and it prompts you).

  3. Select the Apple Watch you want to prepare for a new owner.

  4. Select Remove from Account.

If you have trouble removing the Apple Watch’s Activation Lock (or any other steps in the process), you can contact Apple for help. Navigate to Apple’s Turn off Activation Lock webpage and select Get Started in the section under Need additional support?

FAQs

How to pair my Apple Watch to my new iPhone?

If you bought a new iPhone, you usually won’t need to reset your Apple Watch manually before pairing it with a new model. If you restore your new iPhone from a recent backup, iOS should ask if you want to use your Apple Watch with the new phone. If it does, ensure you’re wearing your watch (and that it’s unlocked), and then choose Continue to proceed. If you have a cellular model, it will also ask if you want to transfer your cellular plan to the new device.

If iOS doesn’t prompt you to use your Apple Watch with the new iPhone, you can still set it up manually. In that case, you’ll follow the instructions at the top of this story to unpair and reset your Apple Watch. Then, after setting up your new iPhone, open the Apple Watch app on your phone, select All Watches, then Add Watch and follow the prompts.

Does resetting an Apple Watch unpair it?

Unpairing an Apple Watch factory resets it, but resetting it doesn’t unpair it from your account or turn off Find My / Activation Lock.

If you reset it from the watch itself (section two of this tutorial) without unpairing it from the Apple Watch app on your phone, you’ll need to navigate to iCloud’s Find My page, select the device and then Remove from Account to unpair it for a new owner to set up. But if you have access to both devices, unpairing it from the Apple Watch app on your iPhone is the quickest and most direct way to wipe it clean.

For more on the latest Apple Watch, you can catch up on Engadget’s Apple Watch Series 9 review and our impressions of the Apple Watch Ultra 2.