How to Reset & Erase Apple Watch to Factory Default Settings

Sep 15, 2015 - 19 Comments

Reset an Apple Watch to factory defaults

If you find yourself needing to reset an Apple Watch to factory default settings, perhaps to erase personal data from it, to start fresh, for troubleshooting purposes, lending to someone else, for resale, or whatever else, you’ll discover the entire procedure is performed on the Apple Watch itself. That makes it a bit different from some of the other settings on the device which requires setup from an accompanying paired iPhone, but don’t worry, this is not difficult.


Perhaps this should be obvious, but do be aware that by resetting an Apple Watch, you are completely erases everything off Apple Watch, including any media, data, settings, messages, pairing to iPhones, and anything else.

When you’re ready to begin the reset, get the Apple Watch you wish to erase, then do the following:

  1. Open the “Settings” app on the Apple Watch and go to “General”
  2. Scroll down and choose “Reset”
  3. Tap on “Erase All Content and Settings”
  4. Enter the passcode for the Apple Watch
  5. Scroll down and confirm you wish to reset the Apple Watch and erase all data from the device

Once you confirm the reset, a spinning wait indicator will appear on the screen for quite some time, eventually followed by an  Apple logo with an indicator around that.

The video below demonstrates the reset process on an Apple Watch:

When the Apple Watch has finished erasing all data on the device, the reset Watch will appear as if it was brand new, booting up and asking to be paired with an Apple Watch to complete the initial setup again. The Watch will reset to whatever the version of WatchOS is that it’s installed, it does not downgrade WatchOS or do anything else with the operating system itself.

Remember, this also removes any existing pairing between an Apple Watch and an iPhone, so that setup process has to start over again, even for a set of devices that were already synced to one another.

This process is pretty similar to performing a factory reset in iOS, and it basically restores the device back to its factory default settings as if it were brand new.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Apple Watch, Tips & Tricks

19 Comments

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  1. Hogan says:

    For whatever reason I have to reset the Apple Watch and re-pair it again to the iPhone every time I restore an iPhone from a backup, kind of frustrating!

    • Marina says:

      I think what’s happening is that, after the phone restore, the watch does not recognize it as the same old phone it’s been paired with before. However, before you pair a watch to (what it thinks is) a new phone, you have to un-pair it from the original, which you “killed” in the restore process.

      I would recommend that you try to remember to un-pair the watch from the phone *before* you restore the phone, and after the restore, pair the watch from the phone again.

  2. Marion says:

    This doesn’t work. I’ve tried at least 5x and it is still linked to the previous Apple ID and won’t let me pair with my Apple ID.

    • Dweebus Maximus says:

      If you don’t follow instructions it won’t work, so it’s not working FOR YOU. It works for EVERYONE ELSE. That means USER ERROR on YOUR PART. Try reading the tutorial about resetting the Watch, then unpair it from your iPhone you dweebikus rex.

  3. Pat says:

    Not working for me either

  4. Kwame B. says:

    What if it’s still linked to their iCloud account? I bought a watch from a guy and he forgot to unlink it from his account and I have not been able to get in contact with him since he’s deployed.

    • paul says:

      You must unlink Apple Watch from the iCloud account, he can do that on iCloud.com or you can do it if you have the iCloud account login and password.

  5. Marcus Rucker says:

    It’s reset but still connected to the cloud of other user how can I reset iwatch after that cause it won’t pair it was given

  6. Mark says:

    I’ve followed the instructions to reset my Apple Watch but it won’t turn back on?
    Any ideas?

  7. Mark says:

    I have lost my Apple Watch and want to erase it so there is no personal data. Even though it is not connected via Bluetooth because I don’t know where it is, by erasing it from my iPhone will it still wipe the data from the watch?

  8. Dj says:

    I received a watch & didn’t get any info from the person & they didn’t unpair it from their icloud what can I do

  9. Patrice says:

    I bought an Apple Watch from an auction but it has someone else’s Apple ID for iCloud how do I get rid of that and set watch to factory settings to pair to my phone

  10. Unknowed says:

    Manually with out phone I need that I unsinked it and it still is the same

  11. Raiden99 says:

    I was tired asking for people on how to Reset & Erase Apple Watch to Factory Default Settings . Here is where I got all my questions answered The best facilitator I ever met.

  12. Bigjohn0329 says:

    I just bought a iwatch from a pawnshop for my wife’s birthday, got it home and it won’t pair because it needs the original apple id , well I don’t have that nor can i get that so whast am I supposed to do!!??? Anyone know!!?? Please help !!!

  13. Melodye says:

    How can I reset my deceased son’s watch to use with my iPhone? We have no pass codes, his phone is locked and his watch is the only “thing” of his I wanted. He called it his “bat phone” and wore it all the time. Please help.

  14. Elaine van Eeden says:

    I have an apple watch that I want to pair with my phone. It keeps on giving me the “pairing failed” message on the activation lock screen. I do not have this watch on the “find my iphone ” list to delete it. What do I do. It is my own watch and phone but it unpaired after I fixed the touch screen of my phone and I need to reset it again. How can I get this activation lock off. I have tried to go to icloud.com, sign in and checked the devices. This

  15. Elaine van Eeden says:

    Sorry. It gives me an incorrect apple id message. I have reset the watch as well. So I cannot get into watch settings. It is like a new apple watch setup

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