You can now restore an Apple Watch with watchOS 8.5 or later, using an iPhone on iOS 15.4 or later. Typically, users had to take their bricked Apple Watch to an Apple Store in order to get it back in working condition, however, it seems to finally have changed.
A new “Recover Apple Watch” option is now available on iPhone with iOS 15.4 that can be used to restore it in case it shows an error or an animation of a watch and iPhone moving close to each other.
Restore Apple Watch with watchOS 8.5 and iOS 15.4
Apple did not mention this feature in the release notes for both watchOS 8.5 or iOS 15.4, however, the company put up a support page explaining how this feature works.
If your Apple Watch, on watchOS 8.5 or later, is showing an animation of a watch and iPhone moving close together, follow the below steps:
- Have an iPhone on iOS 15.4 nearby. Make sure that it is connected to a stable Wi-Fi network and has Bluetooth enabled.
- Connect the Apple Watch to its charger.
- Double click the side button on the Apple Watch. This is the button located below the Digital Crown.
- Wait for a pop-up to appear on the iPhone which says “Recover Apple Watch”. Tap continue and follow the next steps.
If somehow you are unable to get the pop-up on your iPhone, try switching to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network instead of a 5GHz network. You should also avoid a captive or 802.1X network.
If your Apple Watch is showing a red exclamation mark, like shown in the image above, double-click the side button and then follow the aforementioned steps.
Despite the details on how to use the feature, Apple has not shared enough information for users to understand when such a situation may arise. The support page mentions the following:
Your Apple Watch might show an animation asking you to bring it close to an iPhone if your watch experiences a problem that requires it to be updated or restored. You might also see a red exclamation point on your watch.
We assume that the errors could happen due to buggy software updates, as has happened in the past with a few watchOS updates. However, it does not seem that this feature can be used to downgrade an Apple Watch from a watchOS beta build to a stable watchOS version unless the above error screens are displayed on the watch.