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Why Apple Watch Won’t Turn On

Why Apple Watch Won’t Turn On

Wondering why your Apple watch doesn’t turn on? We have a list of possible reasons and their solutions, including some step by step instructions to help you troubleshoot your misbehaving accessory. Fortunately, most of the fixes are relatively simple. If none of these work, however, it might be time to take it in to a professional.

If you love wearable tech like this, here’s the 7 best smart glasses of 2023. Now, let’s get into the four most common reasons your Apple watch won’t turn on.

Why Apple Watch Won’t Turn On

1. Battery Issues

Apple watch battery screen

No brainer, right? It’s worth noting that the battery issues could be internal to your Apple watch, a problem with the charger itself, or even your actual outlet. We’ll cover all the ways to find out which is the culprit a little later on.

2. Power Reserve Mode

Red lightning screen Apple watch

Your Apple watch has a low power mode to save battery life by limiting features and functionality. Certain models are more extreme than others in how much they hamstring usability. There are ways to disable this power reserve mode, and we’ll be going over instructions to do just that.

3. Settings aren’t right

Apple watch control center

If your settings are off, you’d be surprised how much that can affect things, even to the point where your iWatch won’t turn on. There are some particular settings to be aware of, namely Screen Curtain. This is an accessibility feature for the visually impaired, a feature of VoiceOver. It makes the Apple watch function from sound, not sight. If this is activated, it might look like your watch isn’t on but, really, the visual cues are just no longer appearing.

4. Hardware problems

If you have physical damage or a faulty component, that makes fixing your watch a great deal more difficult. Still, if you find yourself saying, “Huh. My Apple watch won’t turn on,” right after dropping it in your bathtub…well, those two events might just be related.

What to do if your Apple watch won’t turn on

Blank Apple watch screen

Alright, enough chit chat. You know the more common whys, time to get into the hows. Here are some hopefully helpful steps for you to try to regain function to your Apple watch. Good luck!

Troubleshoot your battery and charger

If your Apple watch is charging, you should see a green lightning bolt on the screen. Depending on your display, this may affect the location and size of the lightning graphic. Of course, if your Apple watch won’t turn on at all you may not see this.

Green lightning charge icon

If your watch needs to be charged you’ll see a red lightning bolt on the screen. Sometimes, to make the watch face actually appear you’ll need to press the button on the side of the watch. If you successfully are able to get your watch charging, the lightning bolt will change to yellow or green, indicating it’s charging. If your screen is totally blank, it could be completely out of juice. Charge it for at least 30 minutes and see if the display shows up.

Red lightning charge icon

Here are some tips if your Apple Watch won’t charge:

  • Use the charging cable that came with your watch so you know it’s compatible
  • Make sure the cable is plugged in all the way to its power source
  •  Be sure all the plastic wrap from the charger has been removed
  • Try repositioning your watch on the charger so that all the magnets are correctly aligned
  • Try a different charging cable or USB Power Adapter
  • Check that your outlet or power source is getting power
  • Be sure that the magnetic charger and the Apple watch itself are clean

Reboot your Apple Watch

When in doubt, reboot. It’s the golden rule of technology. There are a few methods to go about this. Here are the steps to restart your Apple watch:

  1. Press and hold the button on the side of the watch until the sliders appear. Then tap the power icon, dragging the Power Off slider to the right. This turns your watch off.
  2. Turn it back on again by holding down the button on the side until the Apple logo appears

*Note: You can’t reboot your watch while its recharging. Also, you may want to reboot the phone that is paired with the watch too.

If your watch won’t turn off or the problem continues, you can force restart your watch. Here are the steps:

  1. Hold down the Digital Crown and the side button at the same time, holding for at least ten seconds. Here’s what it looks like:
    Apple watch diagram
  2. When the Apple logo appears you can release the buttons
  3. Usually, the iWatch should start within 10 seconds but sometimes it takes up to a minute.

Be sure you’re not in Power Reserve Mode

If your watch uses watchOS 8 or older, you may have the Power Reserve feature, which is meant to save on battery life. When your device is in this mode, most of the features go dormant and you can only see the time, the rest of your display appearing dark. Your Apple watch and iPhone won’t communicate with each other either. When your battery levels get too low, your watch will enter Power Reserve mode automatically. You may even see the red lightning icon indicating your low charge. Once you’ve dropped to 10 percent battery life, you might notice that your watch asks you if you want to use Power Reserve, which you can turn on through your Control Center by tapping on the battery percentage and dragging the Power Reserve slider. We’re more interested in turning Power Reserve off, however, since that could be one of the reasons why it seems like your Apple watch won’t turn on. Here’s how:

  1. Press and hold the button on the side. The Apple logo should appear
  2. At this point, your watch should restart and Power Reserve will be turned off. Don’t forget you might have to charge your watch to restore functionality too

If you have an Apple watchOS 9, Power Reserve has been replaced with Low Power Mode. This reduces functionality to preserve battery life but it is not quite as extreme as Power Reserve. If you want to learn more, here’s a link to Apple’s Low Power Mode support page.

Turn off VoiceOver and Screen Curtain

VoiceOver is an accessibility function for the visually impaired. It enables them to use their Apple watch with voice commands instead of using the display screen. The Screen Curtain function is directly related to VoiceOver. It lets you turn off the display so all you see is a black screen, this adds privacy so no one can see what your watch is showing. Obviously this can be problematic if you accidentally enabled these tools when you didn’t want to. It can make it look like your Apple watch won’t turn on, when really it’s just the display. Here’s what to do:

VoiceOver must be enabled first before you can use Screen Curtain, so keep that in mind. To turn off Screen Curtain, you’ll need to use your iPhone:

  1. On your iPhone, open the app for your Apple Watch
  2. Go to My Watch
  3. Tap Accessibility
  4. Tap VoiceOverApple voiceover display
  5. Tap Screen Curtain to turn it off, but ONLY if it’s already on, otherwise you’ll have turned it on because the steps to do so are exactly the same
  6. You can also turn off VoiceOver from these steps if you don’t want either feature on

Erase and re-pair your Apple watch with your iPhone

This is a fairly troublesome step mostly because it’s just a plain hassle. Still, if you’ve tried everything else to get your watch to turn on, you may be desperate. That said, this tends to fix a lot of issues and bugs so it may be worth it. This is one of the more complex solutions, so here are all the steps for you, though you should know this will factory reset your watch.

Unpair and erase your watch via your iPhone:

  1. Have your Apple watch and iPhone in close proximity
  2. On your phone, open the Apple watch app
  3. Find the My Watch tab and press All Watches
    Unpair watch display
  4. Tap the “i” info button that’s besides the watch you wish to unpair

    Unpair watch display

  5. Tap Unpair “your apple watch name”
  6. You may need to enter your Apple ID password in order to disable your Activation Lock, if you have that feature enabled, at which point you can tap Unpair. Here’s a link to the support page about Apple’s activation lock for Apple Watches

While we’re talking iPhones, if you have any general glitches or a software bug, here’s how to reset network settings on your iPhone. It can solve a whole host of problems.

Unpair and erase via the Apple watch if you don’t have your iPhone:

On your Apple watch go to Settings

  1. Tap General
  2. Tap Reset
  3. Tap “Erase all Content and Settings. You may be prompted to type in your password. Be aware this resets your watch to factory settings

Erase content screen

Re-pair your Apple watch

  1. Make sure your iPhone is updated to the latest iOS
  2. Turn on your iPhone Bluetooth and be sure it’s connected to a cell or Wi-Fi network
  3. Put on your Apple watch and turn it on by holding the side button until the logo appears
  4. Hold your iPhone close to your watch and wait for the “User your iPhone to set up this Apple Watch,” message to show up on your phone.
  5. Tap continue. You can also open the Apple Watch app on your phone, at which point you just press “All Watches,” and “Add Watch,” from there
  6. Hold your watch face under the viewfinder of your iPhone and wait for a popup to say your watch is paired. You can also tap to pair manually

    Apple watch pair instructions

  7. From there you can either set it up as new or restore from a backup if you have one. Of course, this is all assuming that un-pairing and resetting your Apple watch fixes the problem of it not turning on in the first place

Check your watch for physical damage

This one is pretty self explanatory. Do you see damage to your Apple watch screen? Did you accidentally submerge it in water? Is there damage to the charging pad? If there is a physical malfunction or hardware problem with your device, you will likely have limited options in terms of fixing it. You’ll need to take it in to be serviced or order a replacement part. This leads us to our last suggestion of what to do if your Apple watch won’t turn on

Take your watch in to be serviced

If you’ve tried all these possible fixes and your Apple watch still isn’t working, it’s time to seek professional help. You can call Apple support, go to an Apple store, or even look into forums to see if any other users had the same problem. There are still lots of places you can try to find answers from before you reach the drastic measure of buying a new Apple watch.

Need more tips? Here’s how to connect AirPods to your Apple watch.


Why is my Apple Watch black and won’t turn on?

It could be frozen on a black screen from a glitch or bug. You can try to force restart to nudge it into behaving again. Also, it could be in desperate need of a charge, so try charging your Apple watch overnight, or at least for a few hours.

Why won’t my Apple Watch turn on after a hard reset?

Use your iPhone to be sure that Screen Curtain isn’t on. Make sure it’s charged too, as that also contributes to this problem if your Apple watch battery is completely dead. If all else fails and you’ve tried all the steps in this article, take it in to be serviced.

Why won’t my Apple Watch charge?

There could be damage to the internal battery or the Apple watch charger itself. Try a different USB power adapter, a different power outlet, or even a different charging base. If none of these attempts allow you to charge, it could be a hardware problem.


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