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PSA: If your Apple Watch upgrade to watchOS 2 fails, here’s the solution


It seems I’m not the only person to have experienced issues upgrading my Apple Watch to watchOS 2. After swearing at it for its insistence that it needed both more than 50% power and to be on charge (it refused to play even when on 100% power), it finally agreed to update itself and then stalled overnight during the ‘Verifying’ stage.

Starting again, the update then crashed the watch. Rebooting the Watch didn’t fix it, nor did rebooting the iPhone and starting the process again. What did fix it? Read on…

Ultimately, I had to completely start from scratch: unpairing the watch from the iPhone app, and then wiping the Watch. After that, I re-paired the devices, restoring from backup, which got me back to watchOS 1.0.1, and then I was able to successfully upgrade to watchOS 2. Frustratingly, in each of the latter two stages – the second attempt and the final one – the iPhone had to download the watchOS 2 software again, taking around two hours to do so.

Anyway, if you’ve hit the same or a similar issue, here’s how you start from scratch. On the iPhone app, touch the Apple Watch menu item at the top then Unpair Apple Watch.

On the Watch, go to the apps, open Settings, scroll down to General, tap that then scroll down to Reset. Confirm on the next screen. When prompted, tell it to restore from most recent backup.

This takes a while, and at the end of it you’ll still be on watchOS 1.0.1 – at which point you can begin the upgrade again. In the iPhone app, select General then Software Update. Your iPhone needs to be on WiFi, the Watch needs to have more than 50% charge and it also needs to be charging, but this time around it should work.

Once it does finally complete, check out our walkthrough of all the new features.

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  1. galley99 - 8 years ago

    All I had to do was reboot both the watch and the iPhone.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

      Cool – didn’t work for me, but whatever issue anyone experiences, starting from scratch should solve it.

      • galley99 - 8 years ago

        Of course, I had been trying for several hours, each time getting stuck on the Verifying… step.

  2. PhilBoogie - 8 years ago

    A two hour download for the WatchOS? Wow! How many gigabytes is it¿

  3. PhilBoogie - 8 years ago

    Looks like the timestamp is working again..

  4. srgmac - 8 years ago

    This upgrade rollout was a complete failure from Apple — first, I spent about 30 minutes on the “Checking for update…” screen on my iPhone. After rebooting the phone twice and waiting another hour, it finally started the 500MB download; which took approximately 45 minutes, on a 100mbit internet connection (wtf?); then the watch started upgrading itself, and it eventually rebooted and got stuck on the white Apple logo. I hard powered off the watch and back on again — same problem. Rebooted the iPhone yet again, hard powered off the watch, yet again, next boot for both iPhone and watch, it finally got past the Apple logo on the watch display. Horrible update rollout and total fail end user experience.

  5. I had a similar issue. The software download completed, froze on the verify screen, and then proceeded to begin the download again. Once again it froze at the verify stage. At this point I left it and fell asleep. I woke, and tapped the screen to see Nightstand mode was active. No idea what happened overnight, but something fixed the problem.

  6. Another thing I noticed… Did anyone else have an issue with playback of music from their paired iPhone? The music glance still had the old design, and although it showed my iPhone music, it gave me an error message when trying to play it using my iPhone as a source. The reboot trick did nothing, and I resorted to unpairing my Watch to get it to work.

  7. Joshua Glowzinski - 8 years ago

    My problem is, my iPhone keeps saying that the watch is updated to the latest version of, I think 1.1.0. I can never get beyond that.

  8. Colin Gibb - 8 years ago

    Thanks this worked a treat

  9. I’m still not able to download the watchOS2 !
    when download is done , my iphone tells me that ihe version cannot be verified because i’m not connected on Internet !! incredible after 515Mo of download.
    I’m trying to unpair and then reset … and perhaps update one day :)

  10. io ho già provato questa soluzione ma non ha funzionato: “Your Apple Wacth is not connected to the charger” Appleeeeee!!!

  11. io ho già provato questa soluzione ma non ha funzionato: “Your Apple Wacth is not connected to the charger” Appleeee!

  12. Baseball Betsy - 8 years ago

    I was stuck too, rebooted both phone and watch and voilà, all better. Only took about 10-15 minutes. Moral of the story, always reboot before updating.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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