Apple Watch Won’t Update? Try these Fixes (2024)

Apple Watches are getting more reliable with each iteration, but the biggest problem remains the fact that the update function tends to brake with no apparent cause. This problem is confirmed to occur with Series 8, Ultra and the SE 2 as well as with older Series 7 and SE 1 models.

Apple Watch Update Screen
Apple Watch Update failed

Why won’t my apple watch update?

If the watchOS update is interrupted during the procedure every time you attempt to install it or it simply doesn’t prompt you to install it despite the fact that a new update is available for the masses, there are a few things you should do first before you start troubleshooting using the methods featured in this article.


  • Check if your iPhone’s iOS is up to date.
  • Check if your Apple Watch is connected to the charger and is at least 50% charged or more.
  • Make sure your iPhone is connected to Wi-fi.
  • Make sure that both devices (Apple Watch and iPhone) are close to each other.
  • Also, make sure both your Apple Watch and iPhone have enough storage space before attempting to
  • download the update. If not, you may need to make space by erasing some files and programs.

Once you’ve ensured that you meet all prerequisites, try updating to the latest watchOS version once again.

If you’re still experiencing the same behavior, let’s start troubleshooting for the most common reasons why your device might refuse to update. Most commonly, you’ll experience this issue because of a pair glitch or because of remnant files left behind by a failed update.

Follow the methods below to troubleshoot all potential reasons why your watch is not updating:

1. Restart both devices

Keep in mind that when you’re updating your Apple Watch, your iPhone will actually do the heavy lifting. The download files needed to perform the update as well as the unpackaging is handled on your device.

So one of the things that you can do if your Apple Watch won’t update is to restart both devices before retrying the update.

Note: This sounds like a simple fix but it forces your iPhone to re-establish the connection with the Apple Watch.

Here’s a quick guide that will allow you to restart both devices:

  1. Start by turning your Apple Watch off. To do so, press and hold down the Side Button until the Power Off option appears.
    Powering off your Apple watch
    Powering off your Apple watch
  2. Swipe the power slider to turn your device off.
  3. Once your Watch turns off, wait 30 seconds.
  4. Restart your iPhone. To do so, press and hold the Volume Up or Volume Down button + the Side Button at the same time, until the Power-off slider will appear.
    Restart the iphone
    Restart the iPhone
  5. When you see the power-off slider, swipe left to power it off.
  6. Start your iPhone first long pressing the power button. Wait until you see the home screen.
  7. Start your Apple Watch again and wait until the two devices are paired again. This should happen automatically.
  8. Once the two devices are paired again, attempt to install the failing update once again.

2. Re-pair your Apple Watch

The second thing that you should troubleshoot if the watchOS update fails to install is the connection between the Apple Watch and your iPhone.

Most likely, you’re dealing with a pairing issue that you should be able to fix by re-pairing the two devices.

Note: This method will likely work if you are also noticing other connectivity issues with your Apple Watch (e.g. notifications are not appearing, calls are not being broadcasted to your watch, etc.)

If restarting both devices didn’t fix the issue, the next thing you should try is unpairing your Apple Watch from your iPhone.

To do so, follow the next steps:

Note: For the sake of clarity, we’ve split this guide into two different sub-guides (one for unpairing and one for re-pairing).

  1. Go to your iPhone, and open the Watch app.
    Open the Apple Watch app
    Open the Apple Watch app
  2. Tap on All Watches situated at the top left of your screen.
    Open the All Watches menu
    Open the All Watches menu
  3. Tap on the Info Icon next to the Apple Watch that you wish to unpair.
    Click on the info box
    Click on the info box
  4. Then tap on Unpair Apple Watch.

    Unpairing the Apple Watch
    Unpairing the Apple Watch

Now that you’ve successfully unpaired your Apple watch, here are the steps that you need to follow to pair it again:

  1. Make sure that your Apple Watch is on.
  2. If your Watch is close to your iPhone, the pairing screen should appear on your iPhone’s screen. When it does, tap on Continue.
    Re-pair your Apple Watch
    Re-pair your Apple Watch
  3. Put on your Apple Watch and hold it up to the camera to complete the pairing process as instructed.
  4. See if the pending watchOS update appears and install it as instructed.

Note: If you see a message pop up that says “Unable to install update” there are a few ways to troubleshoot:

  • Turn off the option to unlock your Apple Watch with your iPhone.
  • Let your Apple Watch update automatically overnight. You can also update it directly on your Watch, but make sure that the Bluetooth and Wi-fi are turned off.

3. Get rid of the remnant Update File

Another potential reason why you might experience this issue is a remnant file that was left behind by a failed watchOS update.

Although this is a fairly rare occurrence, it can be fixed by deleting the pending update prompt from the Software update menu.

Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

  1. Open the Watch application on your iPhone.
    Open the Apple Watch app
    Open the Apple Watch app
  2. From the home screen of your Apple Watch, tap on General.
  3. From the menu that just appeared, tap on Software update.

    Access the Software update menu
    Access the Software update menu
  4. Delete the remnant update file from the Update tab and wait until the operation is complete.
    Note: Delete the file if it has already been downloaded but not yet installed.
  5. Restart both your iPhone and your Apple Watch (follow method 1 above) and the update should appear again.
  6. Install it as prompted directly from the Software update menu.

Kamil Anwar

Kamil is a certified MCITP, CCNA (W), CCNA (S) and a former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.