Apple Watch sunrise and sunset complication not working and showing time? Let’s fix it

complication for sunrise and sunset on Apple Watch

If you’re like me, you love seeing the time of your local sunrise or sunset on your Apple Watch. It’s a great way to plan your day and know when it’s going to be light or dark outside.

While my watch usually shows the time for the day’s sunset or sunrise on the watch face, sometimes it just says “sunrise/sunset” instead of the actual time. This type of behavior usually happens right after a watchOS update, when things can get reset to defaults.

So if your watch isn’t showing you the actual time of your local sunset or sunrise, follow the steps below to get it working again. It’s usually a pretty easy fix!

Related reading

How to get your Apple Watch to show sunrise and sunset times by updating some settings

You’ll find the Sunrise/Sunset complication as one of the offerings of the World Clock.

One of the most common reasons you won’t see the information for the sunrise/sunset complication is your Location Services settings. So let’s look into those.

Check your paired iPhone location settings

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone and select Privacy & Security > Location Services
  2. Your location services should say they are on. Tap it to open further details.
  3. Scroll down and look for Apple Watch Faces. It should say While Using the App. Location settings for Apple Watch including Apple Watch faces
    1. If it says Never or When Shared, tap it and choose While Using the App.
    2. Make sure you also toggle on Precise Location. Apple Watch faces location permissions via iPhone Settings
  4. Return to the list of apps using location services and select the Weather app. It should say Always.
    1. If it doesn’t say Always, tap it and update its permission. Make sure you also toggle on Precise Location for the Weather app. Set your iPhone weather app to always for location services and use precise location
  5. Repeat again for System Services (at the very bottom of the list of apps) and turn on Setting Time Zone. Setting Time Zone for System Services on iPhone

Check your watch’s location settings

If your watch is a standalone device without a paired iPhone, follow these steps. You can check these settings on an Apple Watch that’s paired to an iPhone, but most of these options are grayed out since they mirror your iPhone’s settings.

  1. Open the Settings app on your watch.
  2. Choose Privacy & Security > Location Services. These should be on.
  3. Scroll down and tap Apple Watch Faces and follow the same steps to choose While Using the App and Precise Location. Apple Watch location settings for workout app, apple watch faces, and Apple Store
  4. Go back to the list of apps that uses location services. Scroll down and choose World Clock. Make sure this is also set to While Using the App and Precise Location
  5. Repeat for the Weather app’s location services permissions.
    1. Set the Weather app’s permission to Always and Precise Location. Apple Watch location services settings for the Weather app, World Clock, and System Services
  6. Repeat again for System Services (at the very bottom of the list of apps) and turn on Setting Time Zone.

Review the Weather app settings

While reviewing your privacy settings for the watch face usually takes care of this problem, if it’s still not working, take a closer look at the Weather app’s settings.

You can make these adjustments via the Watch’s Settings app or via the Watch app on your iPhone.

Via the Settings app

  • Open the Settings app and choose Weather > Default City and set it to Current Location. Apple Watch default settings for location complication
  • Open the Settings app and select General > Background App Refresh, and toggle on the Weather and World Clock apps. Weather, World Clock, and Workout apps background app refresh settings on Apple Watch

Via the Watch app

  • Go to Weather > Default City and set it to Current Location. Weather settings in iPhone Watch app
  • Go to General > Background App Updates and toggle on the Weather and World Clock apps. Watch app on iPhone Background App Refresh settings

Try Wi-Fi only mode on your watch

Another strategy that might work for you is to disconnect your watch from Bluetooth and connect your watch to WiFi so it refreshes its data directly rather than via your iPhone.

  • To disconnect your watch from your iPhone’s Bluetooth, open the Settings app on your watch and tap Bluetooth. Scroll down and toggle Bluetooth off. Turn Bluetooth off on Apple Watch
  • To connect to Wi-Fi, open Settings > Wi-Fi. Toggle it on and choose a local network. WiFi on Apple Watch
    • An Apple Watch Series 6 or later can connect to a 2.4GHz or 5GHz Wi-Fi network.
    • An Apple Watch Series 5 and earlier and Apple Watch SE can connect only to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network.

Set up your sunrise/sunset complication again 

If updating your location settings didn’t do the trick and it still says sunrise/sunset instead of the actual time for the sunrise or sunset, try removing the complication and adding it back in again. Apple Watch face doesn't show the time of sunrise or sunset

You can update your watch face complications using your iPhone’s Watch app or on the watch itself (change without your iPhone.)

How to update complications in your iPhone’s Watch app Add complication for sunrise and sunset to Apple Watch face

  1. Open your iPhone’s Watch app, and under My Faces, tap your current watch face.
  2. Under Complications, tap the area that lists Sunrise/Sunset and change it to something else. Watch app world clock complications list for watch face
  3. Wait for your Apple Watch to show the updated complication. World Clock complication for New York time on Apple Watch face
  4. Once you confirm it changed the complication’s information, change it back to Sunrise/Sunset. Apple Watch app list of complications for apple watch faces
  5. Wait for your Apple Watch to show the correct sunrise or sunset time. Apple Watch face with sunset complication from World Clock

How to update complications on the Apple Watch itself (without iPhone)

  1. With the watch face showing on your Apple Watch, press and hold the display, then tap the Edit button. Edit sunrise and sunset complication on Apple Watch itself
  2. Swipe left to the Complications screen options and tap the Sunrise/Sunset complication. Apple Watch change complications using watch itself
  3. Turn the Digital Crown to choose a different complication and press the Digital Crown twice to save your changes and return to the watch face. Use digital crown to select a complication for apple watch face
  4. Confirm the complication updated to your chosen one, then repeat the steps to change it back to Sunrise/Sunset.

Restart your Apple Watch

Finally, if the problem persists, power off your Apple Watch, wait a few moments, and then boot it back up so it refreshes the watch’s information from Apple Servers.

Power off your watch via these steps: press and hold the side button until you see the Power button at the top. Tap it, then drag the slider to turn it off completely. restart Apple Watch or power off using watchOS 9 and higher

Wait a minute or so before you press and hold the side button to boot up your watch. Release the side button when you see the Apple logo.

Unpair and re-pair your Apple Watch

If you tried all the steps above and your watch still doesn’t show the times for your local sunrise or sunset, it’s time to bring out the big gun of unpairing and re-pairing your watch using the Watch app.

What an unpairing does is create a backup, clear the watch’s cache, delete all the watch’s temporary files, and remove any corrupted files. Then it re-indexes the watch’s file system. So it’s like starting with a fresh watch again.

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Go to the My Watch tab and tap All Watches.
  2. Tap the info button next to your watch’s name. apple watch info button "i" icon
  3. Select the option to Unpair Apple Watch. unpair apple watch from iPhone
  4. For GPS + Cellular models, choose whether to keep your cellular plan.
  5. Wait for the unpairing process to complete, then follow the on-screen steps to re-pair your watch and restore from the recent backup the Watch app created.

Sunrise and Sunset times show up but are wrong?

First, make sure you allowed System Services access to your location for the time zone.

On your iPhone or your Apple Watch, open the Settings app > Security & Privacy and scroll down to the bottom to System Services. Then, toggle on Setting Time Zone.

Next, check your iPhone’s overall date and time settings.

Look at your date and time settings

If you’re seeing the sunset and sunrise times, but they aren’t accurate, there might be an issue with your current time zone.

  1. Go to Settings > General > Date & Time.
  2. Turn on Set Automatically or toggle it off and then back on. set date and time automatically on iPhone

You can also set your date and time manually via these steps.

  1. Go to Settings > General > Date & Time, and toggle off Set Automatically.
  2. Tap Time Zone and enter a city with the time zone that you want. 

Final thoughts

I hope these tips helped you get your sunrise or sunset time showing up on your Apple Watch face. For folks that like to photograph these events or want to get home before it’s too dark, knowing the time the sun sets or rises is pretty important.

In case your watch continues to experience issues, contact Apple Support for further assistance. It’s possible there is some other hardware or software problem that impacting your watch.

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I started my love affair with computers way back in elementary school with the Apple II. Since then, I've worked with technology in my career as a media educator and videomaker. I have an MFA in media making from Temple University, where I also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member. Additionally, I was a writer, content producer, and editor on the popular tech blog AppleToolBox. So I know a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides! After a cancer diagnosis, I turned to mobile technology like my Apple Watch to help me monitor my health throughout my chemotherapy treatment and later, to regain my wellness once in remission. I love sharing how to understand and use mobile tech, like smartwatches and phones, as a tool for empowerment to live our best and healthiest lives! Connect with me on LinkedIn!


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