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AirPods Won’t Connect to Apple Watch (Causes and How to Fix)

Aside from the signature sleek appeal, the efficiency and ease of using AirPods with your Apple Watch is reason enough to get your hands on them. However, if you already own both, you may have noticed they don’t always play nice together.

One of the more frustrating situations is when the AirPods won’t connect to Apple Watch. You’ve followed all the instructions, but for some reason, they just won’t connect.

To fix this, you may need to update your software, double-check your sign-in, or reset your devices.  In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the process of each one, as well as explore what might be causing this rift between your AirPods and Apple Watch.

Outdated Software

Updates can be cumbersome, but they’re necessary for your devices. Both your Apple Watch and your iPhone need to be running the latest software to pair with your AirPods properly.

Equally important, the software needs to be compatible across devices. Check below to make sure you have the right version for your AirPods:

  • Airpods 1st Generation: at least iOS 10 for iPhone and watchOS 3 for Apple Watch.
  • AirPods 2nd generation: at least iOS 12.2 for iPhone and watchOS 5.2 for Apple Watch.
  • AirPods 3rd generation: at least iOS 15.1 for iPhone and watchOS 8.1 for Apple Watch.
  • AirPods Pro 1st generation: at least iOS 13.2 for iPhone and watchOS 6.1 for Apple Watch.
  • AirPods Pro 2nd generation: at least iOS 16 for iPhone and watchOS 9 for Apple Watch.
  • AirPods Max: at least iOS 14.3 for iPhone and watchOS 7.2 for Apple Watch.

How to Fix

If you can’t remember the last time you had an update, don’t worry. You can check for updates on both your iPhone and Apple Watch. 

Here’s how:

  • To check your iPhone, open the “Settings” app, go to the “General” menu, then select “Software Update.”
  • To check your Apple Watch, go to the Apple Watch app, and tap “My Watch.” Then, it’s the same thing: tap “General” to go to “Software Update.”

AirPods Not Paired Correctly

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One potential reason why your AirPods might not be connecting to your watch is because of connectivity issues. Interference and range can both cause your devices to not pair correctly.

How to Fix

To fix this, you’ll need to unpair the AirPods from your iPhone and then pair them again with your Watch. You can follow the steps below:

  1. First things first, go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Once that’s opened, tap “My Watch”, then go to “General”> “AirPods.”
  3. Tap the info or “i” button next to your AirPods, then tap “Forget This Device.”
  4. Then, on your Apple Watch, go to “Settings” and tap Bluetooth for the list of available devices.
  5. Lastly, tap the name of your Airpods and wait for it to connect.

Your Devices Need a Reset

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If you find that your AirPods won’t connect to your Apple Watch, it’s likely due to a software issue. In that case, one troubleshooting step you can take is to restart your iPhone and your Apple Watch.

When you reset your iPhone and Apple Watch, it resets the Bluetooth connection between the two devices. This can solve several minor software glitches and Watch-related issues, including the problem of your AirPods not connecting.

How to Fix

Before you begin, make sure that both your iPhone and your Apple Watch are charged before you restart. 

The Apple Watch can’t restart while charging, whereas your iPhone could use the charge to keep it from dying while you set things up.

Now, here are the steps to restart your Apple Watch and iPhone:

  1. First, shut down your Apple Watch by pressing and holding the side button until you see the power off slider. Slide the toggle and wait for it to turn off.
  2. Then, for your iPhone, press the side button and hold it down until the slider appears. Drag the slider to power off and wait. 

For iPhones with the Face ID feature, you can do this by holding the power button and volume button at the same time until you see “Slide to Power Off” on the screen.

  1. Now you can turn on your devices, starting with the iPhone this time. You want to do this to ensure your iPhone has time to boot up before the Apple Watch pairs with it.
  2. After you’ve restarted your devices, try connecting your AirPods to your Apple Watch again.

In most cases, a simple restart of your devices will fix the problem. If that doesn’t work, we recommend contacting Apple Support for some troubleshooting on their side.


As great as Apple products are, they don’t always work as seamlessly together as you’d expect. It’s not ideal, but you may have to tweak a few things to figure out why AirPods won’t connect to Apple Watch.

There are a few reasons, as we’ve mentioned, but luckily there are also a few simple solutions. At the very least, you may need to turn a couple of things on and off again, while at most, you might need to call Apple Support or perform a factory reset.