Getting error pairing failed because your Apple Watch couldn’t pair to your iPhone?

One of the most annoying and frustrating error messages Apple Watch users can get is the dreaded “Error Pairing Failed” message.

This error message typically pops up because your Apple Watch could not pair to your iPhone for some reason. Like maybe your iPhone is too far away, or it got disconnected. 

Getting this error message can be frustrating, especially when you do not know what triggered it.

But we’re here to help you figure out what the issue is and how to fix it. Keep reading to learn more. 

Suggested reading:

How to fix Error Pairing Failed issuepairing failed error screen

When your Apple Watch doesn’t pair to your iPhone, you’ll see the Error Paring Failed message pop up. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Here’s what you can do to fix it. 

Before you start, check if your iPhone runs the latest iOS version available for your model and that your Apple Watch also runs its latest watchOS version.

If your iPhone is out of date and your Apple Watch is a newer model, you may not be able to pair it until you update your iPhone to the latest version of iOS.

Try pairing againPairing Apple Watch

Typically when this issue happens, all it means is that your Apple Watch got disconnected from your iPhone somehow. So first step is to try pairing your devices again.

Make sure your iPhone connects to a WiFi or cellular network and that the signal is strong. Your iPhone needs to maintain a stable wireless connection to pair with your watch.

When the error message pops up, you should see an option to click Start Over. Do that and follow the on-screen instructions. This takes you through the process of re-pairing your devices.

  • If that doesn’t work, check if your WiFi and Bluetooth settings are correct.
  • Also, make sure Airplane Mode did not get turned on by accident.

If you got disconnected through either of those, that could be why your devices are no longer paired. You can check those settings by swiping up your Apple Watch to access the Control Panel.

Also, make sure your Apple Watch and iPhone are close by. If the proximity of these two devices is too far, that can be the issue too. When pairing your devices, it is best to keep them side by side. 

You should also make sure your Apple Watch is not paired to another device. That could also lead to the error pairing failed message. 

Restart Apple Watch and iPhonehow to restart the apple watch (not forced restart)

Whenever you experience any kind of glitch, sometimes restarting your devices can do the trick.

  • To restart your Apple Watch hold down the side button and slide the power off button.
  • To restart your iPhone, press and hold one of the volume buttons and the side power button until the power off slider appears.

When restarting your Apple Watch or iPhone, you should turn your devices off for a minute or two and then turn them back on starting with your iPhone and then your Apple Watch. 

After restarting your devices, try and see if your Apple Watch wakes when you raise your wrist. 

Hard restart your Apple Watch (forced restart)force restart an apple watch

If a restart didn’t work, try to force your Apple Watch to restart–called a hard restart. 

Press and hold both the side button and the Digital Crown simultaneously and maintain this hold until the Apple Logo appears on your watch’s screen. This process usually takes about 15 seconds but could be as long as 20 seconds (and maybe even more.)

Reset iPhone’s network settings reset network settings on iPhone

For some users, resetting their iPhone’s network settings did the trick.

  1. To do so, open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Scroll down to General and select it. 
  3. Then scroll down to Reset and select that tab.
  4. Then you should see Reset Network settings. Tap that, then follow the on-screen instructions to proceed with the reset.

Check for Software Updatesoftware update for Apple Watch

For some users, this issue was a bug from an older version of iOS. So, if you are still experiencing this issue, your best bet is to check to see if your Apple Watch needs an update. 

  1. To check on your Apple Watch, tap on the Settings app.
  2. Then scroll down to General and tap it.
  3. Then select Software Update. If an update is available, connect your watch to WiFi for the fastest way to update your watch, then choose to update your watch.

You can also update your Apple Watch from your iPhone. Open your Watch app and click on General, then select Software Update. If an update is available, go ahead and proceed. 

setting for updating software iOS on iPhone

To update your iPhone, go to the Settings App. Sometimes, a banner appears at the top that says Software Update Available. You can click on that, and it automatically takes you to update your phone.

If it does not appear, you can still check by scrolling down to General and tapping on Software Update.

If there’s an available update, click on Download and Install, then follow the onscreen instructions to complete the update.

Unpair and re-pair Apple Watchunpair apple watch iPhone

If you’re still having issues, you should try unpairing your Apple Watch from your iPhone and then pair it again.

To unpair your Apple Watch, go to the Watch app and select All Watches. Tap on the information icon next to your watch. Then you click on Unpair Apple Watch.

After that, you’re going to want to pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone again. This typically does the trick!

Reset Apple Watcherase all content and settings on apple watch

If none of those solutions worked, then it is time for the last resort – resetting your Apple Watch.

If you choose to do this, keep in mind you lose all your Apple Watch’s information unless you do a backup. Backing up your iPhone also backs up your Apple Watch. 

  • To reset your Apple Watch, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone or the Settings app on your Apple Watch.
  • Open General and scroll down to the bottom to Reset.
  • Tap that. Click on Erase Apple Watch Content and Settings.
  • A message pops up confirming if you want to proceed, so tap Erase Apple Watch Content and Settings again. Then follow the on-screen introductions.

After that, you set up your Apple Watch like a brand new device or connect to your recent backup.

Still not pairing? Contact Apple Support

If your Apple Watch continues to not pair with your iPhone, it’s time to contact Apple Support.

If the watch is new to you and not associated with your Apple ID, make sure you have your Apple Watch’s serial number available.

You can find the serial number engraved in the band slot (or on the back of your watch) or in your list of devices associated with your Apple ID.

  • Open Settings > Apple ID and scroll down to your device list. Then tap your Apple Watch to see its information, including the serial number.

You can also find the serial number on the original box and even on the receipt for the Apple Watch if you purchased it directly from Apple.

Final thoughts

Getting the “Error Pairing Failed” message is a common bug and glitch. It has happened to me too.

When I had to fix the error message, the only solution that worked for me was to unpair and re-pair my Apple Watch. Luckily, I haven’t gotten the error message since then! 

I hope this helps, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask!

I'm a content writer with a passion for all things lifestyle having earned my Bachelor of Science in journalism from St. John's University. I was born and raised in Southern California. My Apple Watch never leaves my wrist, but I also adore Fitbit. I love all things health tech, including fitness and self-care apps. When I'm not writing, I enjoy traveling, reading, and drinking iced coffee!


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