Resetting your Apple Watch is easy, but only if you know the difference between resetting and unpairing (one actually resets your Apple Watch and the other is frankly… kind of dumb).
Please, DON’T reset directly from your Apple Watch
In order to sell an Apple Watch you need to make sure that not only has your personal information been wiped, but also that your Apple ID has been removed. Many people assume that going to settings menu – general – reset – erase all content and information on their Apple Watch will completely wipe it so another user can start using the Apple Watch. THIS IS FALSE.
This method will wipe all of your personal information but keep your Apple ID and Password linked to the Watch. In this state the Apple Watch is considered “iCloud Locked” (also known as “activation locked”) and cannot be used by anyone but you. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because when you follow the same exact procedure on an iPhone or iPad it DOES remove the iCloud account. So many people (who have not read this article) assume they can reset their Apple Watch in the same way they would reset their iPhone before selling it or giving it away. This discrepancy has caused a massive problem for people who sell their Apple Watch with the assumption that it’s been completely factory reset, only to hear back from an angry buyer who purchased your iCloud locked Apple Watch.
The best way to completely reset your Apple Watch? Unpairing
Unpairing is performed directly from the “Watch” App on your iPhone. When you unpair your Apple Watch using the app it will automatically start the process of resetting itself to factory settings & deleting all of your info. It will also automatically remove your Apple ID / iCloud account so it can be used by another user. This is the critical difference between unpairing via the app vs resetting directly on the watch. Once unpaired, your Apple Watch can be used by another user.
Follow these directions to unpair your Apple Watch:
1: Open the “Watch” app on your iPhone
2: Click on your Apple Watch you want to unpair
3: Click on the little orange “i” with a circle around it
4: Click “Unpair Apple Watch”
5: Enter your Apple ID and Password to begin unpairing
6: Keep your iPhone near your Apple Watch for the duration of the unpairing process. Once your Apple Watch boots to the home screen it’s ready to be used by a new user
What if you can’t unpair using your iPhone?
Typically the only reason you’d be unable to unpair your Apple Watch using the watch app on your iPhone would be if:
A: Your Apple Watch is broken and won’t connect to your iPhone
B: The iPhone that was attached to your Apple Watch has been lost / stolen or stopped working
Follow these directions to unpair an Apple Watch without using an iPhone:
(desktop browser only)
1: On your Apple Watch itself go to settings menu – general – reset then click “erase all content and settings” (make sure your watch is connected to its charger during the reset)
2: Power off your Apple Watch before going to step 3 (this is important)
3: Go to icloud.com and login using the Apple ID that’s connected to your Apple Watch
4: Once on icloud.com, go to the “find my iPhone” page
5: Click “all devices” on the top of the next page
6: Find your Apple Watch from your list of devices and click on it
7: Once again, click “all devices” from the drop down menu on the top of the page
8: You should now see a small “x” in a black circle; click on that “x” icon
9: A message will ask if you want to remove your Apple Watch from your iCloud account. Click “Remove”
10: That’s it! You’ve now reset / unpaired your Apple Watch
Directions when using a Mobile Browser:
To start, follow steps 1 – 4 above
5: Under the “my devices” list find and click on your Apple Watch.
6: Click the option on the very bottom, the one that says “remove from account”
7: That’s it! You’ve now removed the iCloud account from your Apple Watch
How to reset a broken Apple Watch
If your Apple Watch is broken you won’t be able to erase your data from it but you can remove the iCloud account. This is important because if you sell the watch for parts a refurbisher can erase the watch data themselves once it’s been repaired so it can be used by a new owner. For this reason, removing your iCloud account from a broken Apple Watch will substantially increase its value.
To remove your iCloud account from a broken Apple Watch follow the directions in the section above, starting at step 3.
Remember that your Apple Watch is still protected by a passcode lock. So you don’t need to worry about someone being able to access your data after your broken Apple Watch has been repaired. After it’s been repaired a technician will simply perform a factory reset on the watch, and they don’t need to access any data to perform that action.