How to Fix an Apple Watch That Won't Turn On

Check out these troubleshooting tips before contacting Apple

If your Apple Watch is not turning on, there could be a few issues causing the problem. A dark screen doesn't mean disaster.

Most of these issues can be solved quite quickly, even if you have already tried charging your Apple Watch overnight. Unless your watch is completely drained, you should be able to turn on your Apple Watch in just a few minutes following some simple steps.

Turn On the Apple Watch With a Hard Reboot

The most common reason for an Apple Watch's display to go dark and the watch to become unresponsive are battery issues, but unless you've been wearing the Apple Watch all day, the first troubleshooting step you should perform is a hard reboot. After all, we don't want to wait a half-hour or more for the watch to charge if that isn't the problem.

The Apple Watch may have experienced a software issue, or you may have simply triggered a mode that caused the Watch to go dark. A hard reboot will force the device to turn off allowing us to then turn on the Apple Watch. This should solve almost any problem except a dead battery.

A photograph of an Apple Watch
Alexandr Borecky/Pexels
  1. First, hold down both the Apple Watch's crown, which is the dial that spins on the side, and the small button just below the crown.

  2. Continue to hold both buttons down until you see the Apple logo appear on the screen, which signifies the Apple Watch is restarting.

  3. The watch should reboot within 10 seconds, but keep both buttons down for at least 30 seconds before giving up on the hard reboot. In some rare cases, it can take up to 30 seconds to reboot.

If your Apple Watch turns on, you should be set. However, if your Apple Watch continually becomes frozen with only the time being displayed when you click the crown, skip down to the directions on how to fix this issue.

If Your Apple Watch Won't Turn On, Charge It!

This might sound like a no-brainer, but just because you think you are charging your watch doesn't mean you are actually charging it. If your Apple Watch turns off at the end of the day, it is likely a battery issue. But if you are having problems in the morning or afternoon, your Apple Watch may simply not be getting enough battery power when it is charging.

An Apple Watch charging.
 Apple, Inc
  • Check the bottom of the Apple Watch to ensure there is no plastic wrap stuck to the watch. The Apple Watch uses induction to power up while sitting on the charging pad, and anything stuck to the bottom of the watch can cause a problem.
  • Verify that the charging station is actually plugged into a wall outlet. This sounds simple, but someone might unplug the charging station in order to use a hairdryer or other appliance and it's easy to forget to plug the thing back into the wall!
  • Inspect the cable to ensure there are no cuts, worn-out spots or other damage. If someone else in the household also has an Apple Watch, you can use their watch to check and ensure the charging station is properly supplying power. The watch's display will show the power icon (a lightning bolt) when it is charging.

Check Your Apple Watch Settings for Screen Curtain

The Apple Watch's display can also be turned off via an accessibility feature called Screen Curtain. This feature is part of the VoiceOver assistance given to the vision impaired and allows the watch to be operated by sound rather than sight. If you have performed a hard reboot, charged your phone and inspected the charging station to no avail, you should check the Apple Watch settings to ensure VoiceOver is turned off. Don't worry, you don't need your watch for this!

A screenshot of the VoiceOver settings for Apple Watch.
  1. Launch the Watch app on the iPhone you have paired with your Apple Watch.

  2. Tap My Watch at the bottom if you aren't already on the My Watch screen.

  3. Scroll down and choose General.

  4. Tap Accessibility.

  5. VoiceOver is the first setting. If it is turned on, tap VoiceOver and then tap the on-off switch to turn the feature off. When VoiceOver is turned off, Screen Curtain is automatically turned off as well.

Is Your Apple Watch Frozen Showing Just the Time?

Apple Watch has a power reserve mode similar to the low power mode for the iPhone, except that it is even more extreme than the iPhone's version. In power reserve mode, the Apple Watch shuts down almost all functionality and the screen will go completely dark. When you press the crown button, the Watch will quickly display the time before going dark again.

An Apple Watch showing just the time in power reserve mode

In order to exit from power reserve mode, you need to reboot the watch. You can do this by holding down the side button (not the crown) until the Apple logo appears. If this does not work, try holding down both the crown and the side button to perform a hard reboot.

How is power reserve mode activated? The Apple Watch will prompt you if you get down to 10% battery power, making it easy to accidentally turn on the power-saving mode. You can also turn it on if you tap the battery icon in the Apple Watch's control panel.

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