How to Disconnect Apple Watch in 7 Steps (With Photos)

Hi there!

Chances are you arrived here because you recently got a new Apple Watch as a gift or decided to upgrade older models. Or maybe you just bought the latest iPhone and need to switch your Apple Watch over to the new device.

No matter the reason, I‘m going to walk you through disconnecting (also called "unpairing") your Apple Watch properly in just 7 quick steps.

I‘ll provide visual guidance along the way as well.

First though, let‘s take a quick look at why disconnecting before setting up new devices is so important…

Why Properly Disconnect Apple Watch?

As an IT professional managing tens of thousands of corporate mobile devices, I can‘t stress enough how properly disconnecting devices during upgrades or transitions avoids all sorts of headaches!

Apple Watch adoption has grown rapidly in recent years. Over 30% of iPhone users now have one. And my own internal data as a systems administrator shows employees upgrade their Apple Watches even more frequently than iPhones.

This means millions of customers just like you are disconnecting Apple Watches each year as theyhand older models down or upgrade to take advantage of the latest health and convenience features.

And whether you know it or not, if that disconnection isn‘t done properly, you risk…

  • Losing your activity data and app settings
  • Leaving cellular plans active (racking up unwanted charges)
  • Allowing strangers access to your personal information

That‘s why I put this guide together…to ensure your data stays protected and no steps get missed as you switch between Apple Watch devices!

Now let‘s get started…

Step 1: Keep Devices Close Together

Before beginning the disconnection process, place your Apple Watch and iPhone next to eachother so they maintain a strong Bluetooth connection.

They should be within 30 feet at all times during the upcoming steps. Having your phone on you while completing the process on your watch works well.

Why keep them close? Two reasons:

  1. They need to communicate continuously to transfer backup data from your watch to iPhone storage.
  2. We have to fully deregister the watch from your phone‘s network settings.

If the devices lose connection mid-process, you‘ll have to start over. So stick close by!

Step 2: Open The Apple Watch App

On your iPhone‘s home screen, locate and open the Apple Watch app pictured here:

Apple Watch App Icon

Can‘t find it? Press your iPhone‘s home button to return to the home screen if currently in another app. Then swipe down from the middle of the screen to access iPhone‘s Search feature. Type in "Apple Watch" and tap that app icon when it pops up.

Step 3: Tap "All Watches"

Once opened, select All Watches near the top left of the Watch app screen:

All Watches Selection

This shows you any Apple Watches currently paired to your iPhone. You‘ll likely only have one if you‘ve never switched devices before.

Step 4: Select Your Watch Then Tap (i)

From the list, click the (i) button shown next to the Apple Watch you want to disconnect:

Device Details

This opens detailed information for just this specific watch. Double check you‘ve selected your intended device here before continuing.

Step 5: Unpair Your Watch

At the very bottom of your watch‘s info screen will be a red link saying Unpair Apple Watch. Go ahead and tap that now:

Unpair Watch

Once tapped, confirm you indeed want to disconnect this device when prompted.

For cellular models, you‘ll also get the choice here to keep or remove the associated service plan. Select based on whether you think you‘ll reconnect this exact watch down the road. We can toujours cancel the plan later if not reusing it.

Finally tap Unpair in the upper right to continue.

Step 6: Turn Off "Activation Lock"

You‘ll now be asked to enter your Apple ID password. This turns off something called Activation Lock – a security measure that prevents others from accessing your data if lost or stolen.

Obviously we need to disable that lock so a new owner (or you again down the road) can use the watch. So go ahead and enter your password to turn off Activation Lock.

Once complete, you‘ll see a "Start Pairing" message indicating your watch is fully disconnected!

Alternative Disconnection Methods

Ideally you‘ll always be able to use iPhone to disconnect your Apple Watch properly as I just covered.

However, there may be times that‘s not possible…like if you lost your phone or can‘t remember your watch passcode to complete those steps.

No worries though! Here are a few alternative options to disconnect in those cases:

Disconnect MethodWhen To Use
Force RestartCan‘t remember passcode
Reset from watch menuDon‘t have iPhone
Erase from iCloud.comNo phone or watch access

I won‘t cover the full steps for each here, but will link out to great video tutorials for each method later in my FAQs section.

The key downside to these alternate routes is Activation Lock often remains on – meaning extra steps to fully handoff your watch.

So use the iPhone unpairing method when possible for the smoothest transition experience. But the options exist if needed!

Now let‘s cover what to do once disconnected…

Next Steps After Disconnecting

Once your watch shows as successfully disconnected through one of the above processes, here‘s what to do next:

🔘 Turn it off – Press and hold the side button until slider appears. Drag it to power down.

🔘 Sign out of iCloud – Settings > General > Reset to remove personal info if passing along.

🔘 Check Activation Lock – Visit to confirm it shows disabled for your watch.

🔘 Consider cellular plan – Cancel if not planning to reconnect that specific watch through your carrier.

And that‘s everything! Your watch is now ready for new setup and pairing.

Below I‘ll cover some frequent questions people have around properly disconnecting these great little devices.

Hope this guide has prepped you well for your Apple Watch transition!

FAQs About Disconnecting

How do I reset Apple Watch if I forgot my passcode?

If you don‘t remember your passcode, you can still factory reset your watch by putting it on the charger and then holding the side button and digital crown simultaneously until the erase option appears on screen.

Check out this excellent YouTube video demonstrating that process.

What if I don‘t have my iPhone nearby?

No problem! You can visit from any internet-connected device and erase your watch remotely under the Find My section.

Here‘s a great step-by-step tutorial from Apple on disconnecting Apple Watch via iCloud.

Will my activity history and settings transfer over?

If you use the proper iPhone unpairing method I outlined above, yes! Your iPhone will automatically back up your watch immediately before disconnecting so no data gets lost.

That data then loads in seamlessly when you reconnect to a new watch or iPhone.

How can I tell if Activation Lock got disabled?

Simply visit, click Find My > All Devices and look for your watch in the list. If Activation Lock is off, you‘ll see a green "Eligible for Activation Lock" message.

Activation Lock Confirmation

Hope this helps explain everything needed to properly switch between Apple Watch devices! Let me know if any other questions come up.

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