How to Reset Your Apple Watch with or without iPhone [2024]

So, you’ve got your eye on a shiny new Apple Watch, and it’s time to part ways with the old one or make the switch to a WearOS alternative. But there’s an important step to do before you pass it to someone else: reset.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of resetting your Apple Watch, and getting it ready for its next excursion, whether it’s on someone else’s wrist or recycling.

How to Reset Apple Watch: Featured Image
How to Reset Your Apple Wach

Why Reset Your Apple Watch?

There are various reasons why someone might consider returning their Apple Watch to its factory settings—the way it initially booted when taken out of its brand-new box.

  • Troubleshooting: Address performance issues, glitches, or unresponsiveness on your Apple Watch by performing a reset.
  • Device Transition: When upgrading to a new Apple Watch or passing it on to family, a reset ensures the removal of personal data, restoring it to factory settings.
  • Pairing Challenges: If you encounter difficulties pairing your watch with the iPhone or updating to a newer version, a reset can provide a clean installation, avoiding potential compatibility issues.

How to Reset an Apple Watch

Let’s look at the default method of resetting your Apple Watch that’s the quickest and most straightforward.

  • Prerequisites: the Apple Watch you intend to reset (duh), the passcode, and perhaps an iPhone.
  • Expected Duration: Expect to spend around 7-9 minutes on the process.

1. Back Up Your Apple Watch

Before you start, make sure you’ve created a comprehensive backup of your Apple Watch’s contents, as a factory reset will wipe all the data. If you’re upgrading to a newer one, or even, in fact, downgrading to another Apple Watch, a backup could make setting up the other Apple Watch much easier.

The process of backing up is fairly simple, and in fact, your Apple Watch’s data is backed up to the iPhone that it’s paired with; hence, simply back up your iPhone to a local machine or iCloud, and you should be good to go.

2. Open the Apple Watch App

Step 2/3 of How to Reset Your Apple Watch via the iPhone

Apple recommends you first remove any Transit cards you have stored with Apple Watch. To remove the transit cards, head over to the Watch app, while keeping your watch and iPhone close > navigate to Wallet & Apple Pay > and select Transit Cards.

On the Watch app on your iPhone, head over to the My Watch tab found at the bottom, and then hit the All Watches button on the top left corner. Here, find and click on the minute circled button next to the watch you want to unpair.

3. Unpair your Apple Watch

Step 3/3 of How to Reset Your Apple Watch via the iPhone

This is the final step. Tap on the Unpair Apple Watch button and then tap Unpair again. This will initiate the process of factory resetting your Apple Watch.

Now, based on the model you have, either a regular GPS variant or a GPS + Cellular option, you choose to keep or remove the cellular plan, and then finally enter your Apple ID’s password (if prompted) when asked.

Resetting Your Apple Watch Without iPhone

If your iPhone isn’t available with you at the moment, you can still proceed to reset your Apple Watch. However, it’s important to note that this process won’t remove the activation lock. Follow these steps:

  • Prerequisites: the Apple Watch you intend to reset (obviously), and the passcode.
  • Expected Duration: Expect to spend around 5-7 minutes on the process.

1. Launch Settings on Your Apple Watch

Begin by launching the Settings application on your Apple Watch.

2. Navigate to the General Section

Move to the General section within the Settings.

Head to the General Section under Settings

3. Access the Reset Option

Head to the bottom of the page and tap on Reset.

Tap on Reset under General - Apple Watch
Tap on Reset under General

4. Initiate the Factory Reset

You’ll be prompted with a final button; tap on Erase All Content and Settings and enter the passcode when prompted.

Enter your Passcode on Apple Watch
Enter your Passcode on Apple Watch

5. Manage Cellular Plan (For GPS+Cellular Models)

If you have a GPS + Cellular model, you’ll be given the option to retain the current cellular plan on the device. Keep it activated if you’re going to reuse the device. If you’re trading in the watch, remove the cellular plan.

6. Final Step: Erase All

With everything set, tap on Erase All, and the factory reset process begins.

Final Step: Tap Erase All to Reset Apple Watch
Final Step: Tap Erase All to Reset Apple Watch

This method allows you to reset your Apple Watch directly, even without your iPhone, with specific considerations for cellular plan management.

What to Do If You’ve Forgotten Your Apple Watch Passcode

If you find yourself unable to recall your Apple Watch passcode, there’s a direct reset option available. However, be aware that this method will not remove the activation lock from the watch. The activation lock remains in place to deter theft and unauthorized use. Follow these steps:

  • Prerequisites: the Apple Watch you intend to reset (obviously), and nothing else.
  • Prerequisites: the Apple Watch you intend to reset (obviously), and nothing else.

1. Put Your Apple Watch on Charger

To begin the factory reset process without the passcode, place your Apple Watch on the charger.

2. Power Off Screen

Press and hold the side button until you see the Power Off screen.

Power Off Your Apple Watch
Power Off Your Apple Watch

3. Access Erase Option

Once again, press and hold the Digital Crown until you see the erase option.

4. Initiate Reset

Tap on Erase All Content and Settings and confirm the reset by choosing Reset twice.

Erase All Content and Reset Apple Watch
Erase All Content and Reset Apple Watch


With this, your Apple Watch should be reset to its factory default settings. If you have any other questions or encounter any issues, please let us know by leaving a comment below.


Will I lose all my data when resetting my Apple Watch?

Yes, upon resetting your Apple Watch, you will lose access to all the data stored on the device, but not in the cloud. Hence, it is recommended that you take a complete backup of all the data you require before proceeding with a factory reset.

Can resetting my Apple Watch resolve battery issues?

Possibly. Resetting the Apple Watch results in removing all onboard applications, including those that drain the battery. A factory reset, which removes all apps, can lead to better battery life in some scenarios. However, it’s important to note that battery issues could also be caused by a recent software update.

Unpairing vs. Resetting my Apple Watch: What’s the difference?

Apple Watches follow a similar convention of ‘unpairing’ as regular Bluetooth accessories. Specifically, unpairing implies disabling the Activation Lock and disconnecting your Apple Watch from your iPhone. Unpairing is done before resetting, and you cannot “completely” reset an Apple Watch until it is unpaired. Resetting your Apple Watch involves restoring it to its factory default settings, and erasing all data, settings, and configurations on the watch.


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.