An Apple Watch on a charger, displaying the Apple logo.
Teacher Photo/Shutterstock.com

If your Apple Watch won’t show anything but the Apple logo, it’s probably stuck in a boot loop and can’t start up properly. Though we can’t guarantee success, there are a few things you can try to rescue your Apple Watch when you’re in this situation.

Try Force Rebooting Your Apple Watch

A Watch showing the Apple logo and then flickering over and over is likely rebooting itself repeatedly, a problem sometimes referred to as a boot loop. You can try and break this boot loop with a hard reset, which is initiated in the same way regardless of which Apple Watch model you have.

Force your Apple Watch to restart by pressing and holding both the Digital Crown and side button for at least 10 seconds until you see evidence of your hard reset on the display. Normally this would be easy to spot because your Watch screen would immediately go black, but if you’re already stuck in a boot loop it may be hard to judge.

Apple Watch SE
Apple

When you’re sure your Watch has been hard reset, give it 30 to 45 seconds to start up “from cold” again. You’ll probably know pretty soon if this has worked since you’ll either break the cycle or be stuck in it again.

If it doesn’t work, it might be worth trying it a few times. There are some reports on Reddit of this working after ten attempts, with the Apple Watch finally starting up properly after multiple hard resets. Some users also report charging the Watch in between attempts helped.

If this works then move on to the “Preventing Your Watch Getting Stuck Again” step below, since this may only be a temporary fix.

Try Playing a Sound in the Find My App

It’s not clear why this may work, but there are nevertheless reports of users having success using the “Find My” app to play a sound on the Watch. This seems unlikely to work if your Watch is flickering and restarting, but if it’s displaying a constant Apple logo (and seemingly won’t boot fully) then it’s probably worth a shot.

On your iPhone, launch the Find My app and tap on the Devices tab at the bottom of the screen. Find your Apple Watch in the list of devices and select it, then tap on the “Play Sound” button. This is designed to help you find your Watch if you lose it, a feature Apple has since added to other products like MacBooks and AirPods.

Play sound via Find My app

You might want to try this a few times if you don’t see any success. If it does indeed work, move on to the next step to seek a more permanent fix.

Preventing Your Watch From Getting Stuck Again

Even if either of the last two solutions worked for you, there’s a chance your Watch may succumb to a boot loop or static logo again. Ultimately, it depends on what caused your Watch to get stuck in that state to begin with. It could be a software problem, which we can try to fix with the steps below. But in the event of a hardware problem then there’s probably not a lot you can do.

The first thing to do is to try and update your Watch software. To do this launch the Watch app followed by General > Software Update. If you happen to own more than one, make sure that the problematic Watch is selected first using the “All Watches” button in the top-left corner of the Watch app. If the problem is caused by a software bug, updating to the next version of watchOS may fix it.

The next thing to try is fully erasing your Watch to an “as new” state and pairing it again. When you do this, all personal data on your Watch (like Music you have downloaded or Photos that have been transferred) will be removed. You won’t lose Health or Workout data provided your Watch has sent this to your iPhone already.

You can check apps like Health and Fitness to see whether things like your latest workout, Activity ring status, and step count are current before you do this.

Erase and Reset Apple Watch

When you’re ready to erase your watch, launch the Watch app on your iPhone then head to General > Reset and choose the “Erase Apple Watch Content and Settings” option. You can also do this on the Watch itself using Settings > General > Reset. You’ll be invited to insert your Apple ID password to remove Find My from your Watch, after which it will be reset to an “as new” state.

You’ll be invited to restore your Watch from a backup when you turn it on to pair it again. It’s probably a good idea to pick the “Do Not Restore From Backup” option to further eliminate the chance of the issue cropping up again.

If Nothing Works

If your iPhone gets stuck on the Apple logo, you can try using DFU mode to restore the software on it using a Mac or PC. This is accessible because the iPhone has a Lightning port that lets you transfer data as well as charge the device. Apple includes a diagnostic port hidden under one of the strap connectors on Watch models, but you’ll need a third-party accessory called the iBus to use it.

MFC iBUS for Apple Watch
MFC Team

Even then, it may not be compatible with the latest models beyond the Series 6. Getting it to work may prove more effort than it’s worth since Apple doesn’t support software restore at home for the Apple Watch. If you can’t get your device to respond to the steps above then you will either need to consult Apple about repairing your Apple Watch or try repairing it yourself.

Repairing or Replacing Your Apple Watch

If your Watch is still covered under warranty, by AppleCare+, or by some sort of consumer law that states Apple must repair or replace it, defects will be taken care of for free. The exception is obvious damage to the Watch caused by you, like a dent in the chassis or a cracked screen.

The problem could be caused by a failing battery that no longer holds enough power to start the Watch properly, or liquid damage caused by water ingress. These problems will be evaluated by Apple on a case-by-case basis.

If nothing has worked, it’s probably time to consult Apple about a repair. You can do this by making an appointment on Apple Support with Apple or an authorized service partner. Be aware that Apple Watch repairs often require a few weeks to complete as they are not serviced in-store like other devices. Apple won’t charge you for simply looking at the Watch, and they’ll notify you of any fees you may incur before going ahead with the work.

Repairs may be expensive, depending on the extent of the work required. Depending on how old your Apple Watch is, you may want to instead replace it with a new model rather than sink the money into service or battery replacements. Sentimentality may have some impact on your decision if your Watch was a gift or engraved, but be aware that all Apple Watch models will eventually stop receiving updates and service coverage from Apple.

What About a DIY Fix?

The Apple Watch is a complex bit of kit, so DIY repairs shouldn’t be taken lightly. You can find your model on the iFixit Apple Watch hub to get an idea of what’s involved in fixing your Watch.

Some fixes, like replacing the battery, will be a lot simpler than others. Your biggest challenge might be working out what is wrong with the Watch in the first place. You’ll then need to get hold of any parts you may need or salvage them from dead units on a reseller website like eBay.

A New Apple Watch Every Year

Apple refreshes the Apple Watch each year with new features, design decisions, and sensors for gleaning more information about your overall health. If you’d rather save some money, the Apple Watch SE is a “budget” option available in an aluminum finish.

Whatever you go for, make sure you learn all the top Apple watch tips and tricks to get the most out of your device.

The Best Apple Watches of 2022

Best Apple Watch Overall
Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS, 41mm)
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Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen, 40mm)
Best Budget Apple Watch
Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen, 44mm)
Best Apple Watch with Cellular
Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS + Cellular, 41mm)
Best Apple Watch with Cellular
Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS + Cellular, 45mm)
Best Apple Watch for Durability
Apple Watch Ultra
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Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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