Your Apple Watch is, in its own right, a tiny computer.

Just like any computer you’ve used, your wrist computer is susceptible to various software hiccups, some of which may prevent it from starting up or functioning properly. Should that happen, you’ll need to perform a full restore of the watchOS operating system.

Unfortunately, Apple has made it difficult for users to restore Apple Watch so you’ll need to schedule an appointment at your nearest Apple Store in case something goes awry with the watchOS software that couldn’t be resolved by resetting to factory settings.

While Apple Watch lacks a Lightning port, it does sport a hidden six-pin diagnostic port for service technicians inside the groove of the bottom strap connector slot. Thankfully, MFC’s unofficial iBus dongle lets you connect any Apple Watch via the standard Lightning cable to iTunes on your Mac or Windows PC, allowing you to perform a full restore.

The dongle is priced at $100 for the first-generation watches and $120 for Series 2 models.

We should point out a major caveat: Apple does not make the full watchOS restore files available publicly so you’ll need to obtain the related firmware files from other sources before attempting to restore or update your Apple Watch with iBus.

How to enter DFU mode on Apple Watch

In order to restore software on your Apple Watch from a firmware file on your computer, or downgrade to an older firmware, you’ll need to put the device in DFU mode.

1) Remove the strap on the button side of your Apple Watch case.

2) Place the sewing needle in the port hole. Don’t press the needle to access that door like you would when opening the SIM card tray on your iPhone: instead, apply light downward pressure while pole-vaulting the needle to the side in order to pop the cover off the port.

Here’s a video showing the process.

3) Now connect your iBUS dongle to the watch’s diagnostics port.

4) Connect a Lightning cable to the other end of the dongle and the other end of the cable to your computer’s USB port, then launch iTunes.

5) Turn on your Apple Watch and wait until it boots.

6) Press and hold both the Digital Crown and the Side button for ten seconds, then release the Side button while still holding the Digital Crown until iTunes greets you with a message confirming your Apple Watch is in DFU mode.

Not unlike putting your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch in DFU mode, you will be asked to select a watchOS firmware file (.IPSW) for restore.

The following video shows the full Apple Watch restore process with the iBUS dongle.

It’s worth noting that performing any kind of software installations through the diagnostic port on your Apple Watch will void your warranty and potentially impact the water resistance of the device so proceed at your own risk.

Need help? Ask iDB!

If you like this how-to, pass it along to your support folks and leave a comment below.

Got stuck? Not sure how to do certain things on your Apple device? Let us know via help@iDownloadBlog.com and a future tutorial might provide a solution.

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  • Giel Konink

    but WHY ?

    • burge

      You can not downgrade watch OS so if you want to try watch OS 4 your stuffed if you want to go back to watch OS 3. Your only way todo this is to go to a Apple store and leave your watch there till it’s been done (about 3 days )

  • madeira83

    I have an apple watch s1 that is stuck on that charging green snake screen and have tried everything to revive it. Different cable, ipad charger with more amps and also left it on charger for days. This happened because the watch was untouched for months. Will this dongle send voltage through the diagnostic port of the watch?

    • burge

      Go back to Apple you have a 12 month warranty with it.

      • madeira83

        It is out of warranty.

      • burge

        How can an s1 be out of warranty its not been for a year yet.

      • madeira83

        i’m sorry. you are right. I have the original. Does this dongle not work for the original?

      • burge

        Yes it does. Make sure you ge the correct one. (its the cheapest one)

  • Prefect jobs, contact me by support@mfcbox.com , i will send you iBUS for free, thanks

  • Technician Drgadget

    i have applewatch series 1 42 mm got exclamation mark after update software,and then i buy iBus tools and trying to restore with iTunes. But i cannot put on DFU mode first, and if trying to restore strightly got an error code 9, sometimes different code. So can help me, please?

  • Sergio Jaén

    Hi, is there any way to have S0 38 an 42 mm ipsw files?. I need to restore two watches and I’m not able to find anything in the net. Any help?