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How to factory reset your Apple Watch (2024 Guide)

Knowing how to factory reset an Apple Watch is useful when you want to sell it, exchange it for a new one, pass it to a family member, or troubleshoot an issue. Although the resetting process is easy, it can become daunting when the Activation Lock comes into play.

Luckily, there are multiple methods to go about it. Here’s how to factory reset an Apple Watch with or without an iPhone.

How to factory reset an Apple Watch

If you know the passcode to your Apple Watch, you can factory reset it in two ways. You can either perform the reset on the Apple Watch itself or do so from the Watch app on your iPhone.

1. How to factory reset an Apple Watch using an iPhone

The easiest way to reset an Apple Watch is by using the iPhone it’s paired to, as it also disables the Activation Lock on the Watch in the process, so you don’t have to do it separately.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Open the Watch app on your iPhone and tap All Watches in the top left corner.
  2. Tap the i button next to your Apple Watch under the My Watches section.
  3. Here, select Unpair Apple Watch at the bottom.
  4. Tap Unpair (your name) Apple Watch on the confirmation prompt that appears.

    Tap my watch tab select all watches select info i icon tap unpair apple watch
  5. If you have a cellular model with an active cellular plan, the system will ask you to Keep or Remove your mobile plan. Keep the data plan if you want to pair it with your iPhone again. If not, remove it.
  6. Enter your Apple ID Password and tap Unpair in the top right corner to successfully unpair it.

    Tap unpair apple watch enter apple id password select unpair

This will unpair your Apple Watch from the iPhone. You can pair it again if you want or simply place it aside if you plan to pass it to someone else.

2. How to factory reset an Apple Watch directly

While you can factory reset your Apple Watch from your iPhone, if you don’t have the iPhone nearby–and you don’t want to disable the Activation Lock since you plan on keeping the watch–you can perform the reset on the Watch itself.

Follow these steps to do this:

  1. Open Settings on your Apple Watch and go to General.
  2. Scroll down and select Reset.
  3. Tap Erase All Content and Settings.

    Go to General, select Reset and tap on Erase All Content and Settings on Apple Watch
  4. Enter your Apple Watch passcode.
  5. Your Apple Watch will ask you to keep or remove your plan if it is a Wi-Fi + Cellular model. Tap the preferred option.

    Enter passcode select erase all to factory reset apple watch

This will start unpairing your Apple Watch from your iPhone and erase all your data. However, once the Apple Watch gets unpaired, the Activation Lock will still be there, which can cause a headache to the next owner if you plan to sell or give it away.

Refer to the section toward the end of this guide where we’ve discussed removing the activation lock on an Apple Watch to know how to go about it.

How to factory reset an Apple Watch without passcode

If you don’t know the passcode to your Apple Watch, but you want to reset it, you can do so using the following steps:

  1. Connect your Apple Watch to its charger.
  2. Press and hold the Side button until the power icon appears in the top right corner.
  3. Now, press and hold Digital Crown until the option to Erase All Content and Settings appears.
  4. Tap the Reset button.
  5. Tap Reset again to confirm.

    Factory reset apple watch without passcode

Once this is done, you’ll need to contact the previous owner and ask them to help remove the Activation Lock from your Apple Watch.

How to remove Activation Lock from Apple Watch

While factory resetting an Apple Watch via your iPhone will automatically remove the Activation Lock, the same isn’t true when you do it directly via the Apple Watch with or without a passcode. In that case, you must remove the Apple Watch from your Apple ID to remove the activation lock on your Apple Watch.

How do I remove the previous owner’s Apple ID from an Apple Watch?

Sadly, you can’t do it yourself. You’ll need to ask the previous owner to remove the Apple Watch from their account via the Find My app.

Can you factory reset an Apple Watch without an Apple ID?

Yes, you can factory reset an Apple Watch without an Apple ID. However, you’ll still need the Apple ID password to remove the Activation Lock.

Signing off…

Those were a few ways to factory reset an Apple Watch with or without your iPhone. Although the process is easy, you should always remember to keep your cellular plan in case you plan to use the Apple Watch with your iPhone again.

Still left with queries or doubts? Comment below, and we’ll happily respond.

Know more on Apple Watch:

  • Vikhyat Rishi

    Vikhyat has a bachelor's degree in Electronic and Communication Engineering and over five years of writing experience. His passion for technology and Apple products led him to the tech writing space, where he specializes in writing App features, How-to guides, and troubleshooting guides for fellow Apple users. When not typing away on his MacBook Pro, he loves exploring the real world.

  • Yash Wate

    Yash is a tech journalist and writer based in India. He has five years of experience writing features, how-tos, and reviews for various online publications. As an editor at iGeeksBlog, Yash's job is to ensure the articles are polished and suitable for publication. You can also read his work on How-To Geek, MakeUseOf, and TechPP.

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