How to restore Apple Watch from an iPhone

Apple Watch restore from iPhone

Apple Watch owners having firmware problems can now try recovering their wearable device directly from an iPhone. This wireless method, while not foolproof, can avoid a trip to Apple for service. If your Apple Watch freezes up, crashes during the update process, or stops working, it may prompt you to initiate a restore. To use this feature, the iPhone requires iOS 15.4 or later and the Apple Watch must be running watchOS 8.5 or later.

According to Apple Support:

Your Apple Watch might show an animation asking you to bring it close to an iPhone if your watch experiences a problem that requires it to be updated or restored. You might also see a red exclamation point on your watch.

If you're seeing these symbols on Apple Watch, it's time for a firmware recovery. Follow these steps to restore Apple Watch using an iPhone:

  1. Set up the iPhone by ensuring it is connected to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is ON
  2. Place the Apple Watch on its charger
  3. Bring the iPhone close to the Apple Watch and unlock the iPhone
  4. Double-click the Apple Watch side button (under the Digital Crown)
  5. Follow the prompts on iPhone to recover Apple Watch

Should you have problems with the process, try using a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network instead of 5GHz. Apple also mentions that 802.1X or captive (portal-accessed) networks won't work. Sometimes the steps above result in a red exclamation mark on the Apple Watch screen, which means the restore failed and the device needs service.