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

Check out these troubleshooting tips before contacting Apple

If your Apple Watch doesn't turn on, a few issues could be causing the problem. Most problems can be solved quickly, even if you already tried charging your Apple Watch overnight.

Turn on the Apple Watch With a Force Restart

The most common reason for the Apple Watch display to go dark and become unresponsive is a battery issue. Unless you've been wearing the Apple Watch all day and depleted the battery, the first troubleshooting step you should perform is a forced restart. You 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 accidentally triggered a mode that caused the watch to go dark. A forced restart forces the device to turn off. When you turn on the Apple Watch, almost any problem except a dead battery will be resolved.

An Apple Watch

  1. Hold down the Apple Watch crown, which is the dial that spins on the side, and the small button just below the crown simultaneously.

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

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

If your Apple Watch turns on, you should be set. However, if your Apple Watch is frozen and only the time displays when you click the crown, skip down to the directions on how to fix a Power Reserve problem.

Charge the Apple Watch

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

  • 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. Anything attached to the bottom of the watch can cause a problem.
  • Verify that the charging station is plugged into a wall outlet. Someone might unplug the charging station to use the wall outlet, and it's easy to forget to plug it 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 has an Apple Watch, use their watch to check that the charging station is supplying power. The watch's display should show the power icon (a lightning bolt) when it is charging.

Check the Apple Watch Settings

The Apple Watch display can also be turned off via an accessibility feature called Screen Curtain. This feature is part of the VoiceOver assistance for the visually impaired. When VoiceOver is turned on, the watch is operated by sound rather than sight.

If you performed a force restart, charged your phone, and inspected the charging station to no avail, check the Apple Watch settings to ensure VoiceOver is turned off. You don't need your watch for this.

  1. Launch the Watch app from the iPhone you paired with the Apple Watch.

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

  3. Scroll down and choose Accessibility.

    Apple Watch settings in Apple app on iPhone
  4. Tap VoiceOver if it says "On" next to it.

  5. Tap the slider next to VoiceOver to turn off the feature.

    Accessibility options in Apple Watch app showing VoiceOver controls

Rule Out Power Reserve Mode

Apple Watch has a Power Reserve mode similar to the low power mode for the iPhone, except that it is more extreme than the iPhone version. The Apple Watch shuts down almost all functionality when in Power Reserve mode, and the screen goes dark. When you press the crown button, the watch briefly displays the time before going dark again.

An Apple Watch showing just the time in power reserve mode

To exit from Power Reserve mode, restart the watch. To do this, hold down the side button (not the crown) until the Apple logo appears. If this doesn't work, hold down both the crown and the side button to perform a force restart.

How is PowerReserve mode activated? The Apple Watch prompts you when it gets down to 10 percent of battery power. The screen makes it easy to turn on the power-saving mode accidentally. You can also turn it on if you tap the battery icon in the Apple Watch Control Center and tap Power Reserve at the bottom of the next screen.

Apple Watch Control Center showing Power Reserve setting

Open the Control Center by swiping up on the watch face of the Apple Watch.

  • Why is my Apple Watch not charging?

    Your Apple Watch may not be charging due to an obstruction stopping the charger from connecting to the Watch. To fix an Apple Watch not charging, check your connections to ensure the Watch is making a solid connection to the charger. Try reseating the watch on the charger and checking your cords for damage.

  • Why is my Apple Watch not updating?

    Your Apple Watch may not be updating due to a poor connection, insufficient charging, or a lack of storage space. To fix an Apple Watch not updating, check your connections and storage space. If the update won't begin, restart your Watch and its paired iPhone to force the update.

  • Why is my Apple Watch not pairing to my iPhone?

    Problems with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi are typical culprits when an Apple Watch won't pair to an iPhone. To fix it when your Apple Watch won't pair, ensure the Watch and iPhone aren't in Airplane Mode and that Bluetooth is turned on. Try rebooting the devices, checking your Wi-Fi connection, and clearing the iPhone's network settings.

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