Thursday, February 3, 2022

How to Move Your Data from an Old Apple Watch to a New Apple Watch (Including a Step That’s Needed If It Doesn’t Work the First Time)

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This isn’t something I’d normally post about on the blog as I’m certainly no techie, but since I had some issues when I recently upgraded to my new Apple Watch a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d share some easy, step-by-step instructions for upgrading to a new Apple Watch, including the step that is *KEY* if you want to migrate your data from your old watch to your new one.  Surprisingly, the Apple website fails to mention this step, and I wasted hours of time trying to figure it out.

To transfer your data from your old Apple Watch to your new Apple Watch, follow these steps:


  1. First things first, make sure the software on your iPhone is up-to-date.  If it’s not, be sure to update it before you get started.  You can check this by going to Settings > General > Software Update on your iPhone.  If there’s a new update available, you’ll see it there.  To install the new update, tap “Download and Install.”
  2. Once the software on your iPhone is up-to-date, unpair your old watch in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.  This will create and save a backup of your watch to your iPhone.  To do this, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap My Watch > All Watches.  Tap the info button (the lowercase i in a circle) next to the watch that you want to unpair.  Tap “Unpair Apple Watch.”  Please note, when pairing and unpairing watches to your phone, the watch and phone must be within range of each other.
  3. Next, sync your iPhone to iTunes on your computer to save a backup of your phone.  This ensures that the most recent backup of your watch is saved in case anything goes wrong during the migration.  This step isn’t 100% necessary, but I like to be super cautious as I’m always worried about losing data.
  4. Next, you’ll pair your new Apple Watch with your iPhone using the Apple Watch app on your phone.  To do this, put the Apple Watch on your wrist, turn the Apple Watch on by pressing and holding the button on the side, then bring your iPhone near your Apple Watch.  Follow the prompts.
  5. If you are wanting to move all of the data from your old Apple Watch to your new Apple Watch, select “restore from a backup” when prompted, and then select the most recent backup from the list.  That *should* be the backup that you just created at the beginning of this process.  However, this is where I ran into trouble.

If you see the most recent backup in the list, then you’re golden, and you can just follow the prompts to continue setting up your new Apple Watch.  Then you’re done and you don’t need the rest of this post.

If you don’t see the most recent backup listed, continue reading, because this is where I ran into problems, and this was the step that Apple fails to mention in their instructions process. 

When I tried to select a backup to restore, there were no backups listed on my new watch.  I had just backed it up, so I didn’t understand how this could be.  Well, it turns out that the software on my old watch was running a newer version than the software on my new watch, and therefore, the new watch didn’t detect the backup from the old watch because the software wasn't up-to-date.  Therefore, in order to get my new watch to detect the backup from the old watch, I had to do the following additional steps:


  1. If the new watch doesn’t detect the backup that you had saved from your old watch, you need to pair the new watch with your iPhone and set it up as a NEW watch (do not restore from a backup).  I know this sounds odd, but just trust me.
  2. Once the new Apple Watch is set up as a “new watch,” you then need to update the software on the watch to the newest version.  To do this, start by putting your Apple Watch on its charger (it must be at least 50% charged or on the charger to install an update).  On your iPhone, open the Apple Watch app and tap the My Watch tab.  Tap General > Software Update and then follow the prompts to download the update.  This will update the software to the same (or a newer) version than the version that’s on your old watch, and your new watch will now detect and show the backup for your old watch.
  3. Once software is updated, unpair the new Apple Watch from your iPhone using the same instructions that we used in step 2.  Keep in mind, this is going to create another new backup in your Apple Watch history.  This is not the backup you’ll want to restore when the time comes because it’s not the backup that contains your original Apple Watch data.  This backup will just be a backup of a new Apple Watch that hasn’t been customized.
  4. Finally, you’ll pair your new Apple Watch with your iPhone AGAIN, and this time, the backup from your old watch should be there for you to use to restore to your new Apple Watch.
  5. Select that old Apple Watch backup to restore (it should be the second most recent backup on in your list – remember, the most recent one is going to be that blank one that you did when you unpaired your new watch the first time).
  6. Follow the prompts to continue setting up your new watch. 


Your new watch should now show all of your saved data from your old watch.  Whew. 


I’m telling you, trying to figure this out completely stressed me out, and I was so relieved to find a solution.  It never would have occurred to me that my new watch would be running an older software version than my old watch, but if you think about it, it makes sense… the new watch had been sitting in a box for weeks or months, most likely, so the software hadn’t been updated since it was produced.  My old watch was getting updated automatically as new updates were rolled out, so naturally, the software would be current.

Anyway, I hope this helps someone!  Aaaand if not, at least I have these instructions saved for myself should this issue ever arise again in the future!  Haha.

Happy Thursday, y’all! 


  1. If I ever get a new watch I'll keep this in mind! Mine is so annoying because it won't update. Everytime there's a new update I have to unpair it and then restore it because otherwise it says it doesn't have room to install the update!

  2. Perfect, saved me a lot of time. Thanks!


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