Guide: Disconnecting Your Apple Watch Without Access to the Old Phone

Upgrading to a new iPhone can be an exciting time, but what happens to your Apple Watch? If you’ve forgotten to unpair your Apple Watch from your old iPhone before parting ways with it, you may find yourself in a tricky situation. Luckily, you can still disconnect your Apple Watch without the old phone. This comprehensive guide walks you through the process, ensuring you can successfully pair your Apple Watch with a new iPhone.

What You Should Know Before Unpairing

Before diving into the unpairing process, there are a few points to consider. Unpairing your Apple Watch restores it to default settings, erasing all apps, data, and settings in the process. This includes any transit cards you might have in the Wallet app, which should be removed before unpairing.

Moreover, the activation lock status can change based on the unpairing method. If you unpair using an iPhone, the activation lock is disabled, but it remains active if you unpair directly from the Apple Watch. It’s also important to note that the backup situation depends on the method, so backing up your watch manually before unpairing is always a good idea.

Unpairing Directly From the Apple Watch

If you no longer have access to the iPhone your Apple Watch was paired with, you can unpair directly from the watch. However, this method doesn’t back up the watch’s data, and the activation lock isn’t removed.

To unpair directly from your Apple Watch, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Enter your password if prompted. If you have a GPS + Cellular model, choose whether to keep or eliminate your cellular plan. If you’re planning to pair your Apple Watch and iPhone again later, keep the plan. If you don’t plan to do so, remove the plan. Tap ‘Erase All’ to confirm the reset. The watch will be erased, but you’ll need to provide your Apple ID and password to disable the activation lock.

Understanding the Activation Lock

The activation lock is a security feature that prevents anyone else from using or selling your Apple Watch. It automatically starts when you enable ‘Find My’ on your iPhone. To check if your Apple Watch’s activation lock is enabled, launch the Apple Watch app on the paired iPhone, tap ‘My Watch’ > ‘All Watches’, and then tap the info ‘i’ button next to your watch’s name. If you see ‘Find My Apple Watch’, the activation is enabled.

Unpairing Via iCloud

Even without access to the iPhone your Apple Watch is paired with, you can still unpair it using your iCloud account. This can be done via the Find My app or through icloud.com. Both methods will allow you to erase your Apple Watch and remove it from your account, disabling the activation lock in the process.

Unpairing Via the Watch Itself (With Passcode)

Another method of unpairing your Apple Watch is directly through the watch itself, which requires your passcode. This method doesn’t back up the watch’s data and the activation lock remains active until you manually remove it on iCloud. To unpair via the watch, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Enter your passcode (if enabled) and tap ‘Erase All’.

Unpairing When You Have the Paired iPhone

If you still have access to the iPhone that was paired with your Apple Watch, unpairing becomes much simpler. Your iPhone will automatically create a backup of your watch before erasing it, which can be used to restore data to the same watch or a different one later. The activation lock is also fully disabled, allowing you to sell or pass on the watch without worry.

What to Do If Unpairing Fails

Sometimes, the unpairing process may fail or get interrupted due to network or device issues. In such cases, you can restart both devices or force erase your Apple Watch. To force erase, your watch needs to be locked with a passcode. Place your Apple Watch on a charger, press the side button until the power off slider appears, then hold the digital crown until you see ‘Erase all content and settings’. Tap ‘Reset’ > ‘Reset’ to erase all data and settings from the Apple Watch and unpair it. The activation lock will still be active, so you can pair the watch to the same iPhone or a different one by entering the Apple ID and password or removing the lock via iCloud.

Setting Up Your Apple Watch Again

Once you’ve erased your Apple Watch and removed the activation lock, you can set it up again. Before beginning, ensure your iPhone is updated to the latest iOS version and Bluetooth is turned on. Your iPhone also needs to be connected to the internet via Wi-Fi or cellular data. The setup process includes turning on the watch, holding it near your iPhone for pairing, providing your Apple ID, creating a passcode, and customizing your settings.

Remember, while resetting your Apple Watch does erase all data, it’s not all lost. You can quickly sync a number of watch apps that you installed on your new iPhone, making the transition smoother.