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How to unpair an Apple Watch

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Got a new watch and want to ditch the old one? Or did you lose your iPhone and need to figure out how to pair your old watch with your new phone? Here’s how to get this done.

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Apple Watch

Illustration by Samar Haddad / The Verge

If you’re lucky enough to be unboxing a new Apple Watch this week, you might be wondering how to disconnect your old one from your iPhone. Unless you plan on using two watches — it’s a thing — you’ll want to unpair it so you can hand it down to a friend or family member or sell it.

It’s important to unpair your watch and not just erase it because if you don’t go through the unpair process, Apple’s Activation Lock will kick in. This is a good thing if you’ve actually lost your watch but a bad thing if you are looking to sell or pass on your watch or use it with a new iPhone.

Another thing: if you’re unlucky enough to have lost your iPhone, you will still need to unpair your watch in order to pair it with your new phone. Here, we’ll go through the steps for unpairing your Apple Watch, either with or without your iPhone.

How to unpair your Apple Watch from your iPhone

Open the Watch app on your iPhone to begin the process of unpairing your Apple Watch.

Open the Watch app on your iPhone to begin the process of unpairing your Apple Watch.

  • Make sure your iPhone and Apple Watch have the most recent software updates installed.
  • Put your phone and watch together (you can’t do these steps remotely).
  • Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  • Tap the My Watch tab and then All Watches at the top.
  • Tap the info button next to the name of the watch that you are unpairing. 
  • Tap Unpair Apple Watch at the bottom of the page.
  • If you have a cellular model, you’ll be prompted to choose to keep or remove your cellular plan. If you are pairing a new watch and aren’t using this one again, remove it; you can add it to your new watch. If you plan to pair this Apple Watch again at some point, then keep the plan.
  • Tap to confirm that you really want to unpair the watch.
  • Enter your Apple ID password to disable Activation Lock. 
  • The phone will create a new backup of your watch before it unpairs. You can use this to set up a new Apple Watch.
  • Once the watch is fully unpaired, you will see the Start Pairing message.

How to unpair your Apple Watch without your iPhone

If you don’t have your iPhone you can unpair an Apple Watch through your iCloud account.

If you don’t have your iPhone you can unpair an Apple Watch through your iCloud account.

If you no longer have the iPhone your watch is paired to, you will need to remove Activation Lock using your iCloud account in order to pair it to a new phone.

  1. On a computer, go to iCloud.com and sign in with your Apple ID and password. 
  2. Select Find iPhone.
  3. Click All Devices and choose your Apple Watch.
  4. Select the info button next to the device.
  5. Select Remove Apple Watch — this will remove the Activation Lock and allow you to pair it to a new phone.
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How to erase your Apple Watch without your iPhone

If you don’t have your iPhone, you can erase your watch’s content and restore it to factory settings via iCloud by following the steps above but selecting Erase Apple Watch instead of Remove Apple Watch. Or you can do it directly on the watch by following the steps below. Neither of these methods will remove the Activation Lock, and you can re-pair it with your iPhone at any time.

  1. On your Apple Watch, tap Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings
  2. Type in your password.
  3. If you have a cellular model, you’ll need to choose to keep or remove your cellular plan (as covered earlier). 
  4. Tap Erase All to reset your watch to factory settings.

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