If you just got a new iPhone and would like to pair it with your existing Apple Watch, there is a certain protocol to follow. It is not complicated in itself, but the wrong action could get you to lose some data.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to pair an existing Apple Watch with a new iPhone, and make sure you don’t lose anything in the process.

This tutorial will assume you want to bring over your Apple Watch data instead of setting it up from scratch. If you do want to set up your new iPhone and your old Apple Watch from scratch, then simply erase all content and settings on your Apple Watch by going to the Watch app on your iPhone, then General > Erase Apple Watch Content and Settings. Then pair your freshly reset Apple Watch with your new iPhone.

How to pair your new iPhone with your old Apple Watch

If you want to conserve your existing Apple Watch set up on your new iPhone, follow these steps.

1) Create a backup of your Apple Watch set up. To do so, you first have to go to the Watch app on your iPhone, then tap on your watch at the very top. Tap the ” i ” icon next to your watch, and finally, select Unpair Apple Watch.

Unpairing is the only way to create a backup of your Apple Watch. All contents and settings will then be backed up to your iPhone.

The next step is to backup your iPhone itself. You can do so either using iCloud backup, in which case, your Apple Watch backup will automatically be part of the iPhone backup.

You can also choose to do a backup of your iPhone using iTunes. If you choose that option, make sure to tick the Encrypt iPhone Backup option before backing up your iPhone.

2) Once you have unpaired your watch from your old iPhone and backed up that old iPhone, you can grab your shiny new iPhone and go through the set up process. Make sure to set it up from backup, and not as a new device. You will be offered to set up your new iPhone from the most recent backup we just did in step 1 above. Choose that back and continue on with the set up process.

3) Once your new iPhone is set up, it is now time to pair your old Apple Watch. Open up the Watch app and start the pairing process between your new iPhone and your existing Apple Watch. When the initial pairing process is completed, you will be offered to either set up your Apple Watch as new, or set it up from an existing backup. Select Restore from Backup. This will bring back all the data we backed up in Step 1 to your existing watch.

Restoring an Apple Watch is a lengthy process so you will have to be patient. After an hour or so, your Apple Watch should be all ready to go, and so should your new iPhone.

  • David Pomerleau

    I always set up new phones as new and don’t restore from backup. Probably just being paranoid but it’s left over from jailbreak days. Is there a way to keep Apple Watch data without restoring new phone from a backup?

    • No, you will have to re-install everything. However, if you have Health data and achievements, these will come back when you set up your iPhone as new. They are stored automatically in iCloud, just like your keyboard shortcuts and the likes.

      • jacjustjac

        Haha, the keyboard shortcuts… I wouldn’t be too confident about those.

  • techfreak23

    Unpairing is not the “only way to create a back up.” The watch does occasional backups just like the phone. My last phone I forgot to do the unpair process and all my stuff came over just fine when I paired it to the new 7. But still, the unpair process is the right way to do it. Unpair, then create your iCloud or iTunes backup for the phone.

    • Partially true. In your example, I suspect that you had an “old” backup, one older than the current state of your Apple Watch at the time you *should* have manually unpaired.

      I have never seen an Apple Watch backup that was not initiated by unpairing. You can see your existing Apple Watch backups directly on your phone by following these instructions http://www.idownloadblog.com/2017/07/21/where-are-apple-watch-backups-located/

      Personally, I do not have one single backup made “automatically.”

      • techfreak23

        Mine were never more than a day old. Some were even from the same morning….

        My friend got his X from a Verizon store this morning and forgot to unpair his watch before restoring it to give it back to Verizon for the upgrade. His backup was from last night when he did a backup to iTunes with his phone.

  • 9to5Slavery

    So I tried am switching from my iPhone 7 to my iPhone 6S because I hate the home button after seeing the iPhone X without one. I wanted to try it but the hard stiff iPhone 7 is a no go.

    My Apple Watch upgraded with it and can not pair with a iOS device prior to 10.
    Googled for a solution and Apple will no longer downgrade apple watch that are “1 year and a half more” ago. Was very frustrated. Now I can’t do anything with my Apple watch 1st gen.