how to pair apple watch

AirPods and their charging case next to an Apple Watch.
Peter Kotoff/

AirPods, AirPod Pros, and other headphones with a W1 or H1 chip, like the Powerbeats Pro, should pair automatically with an Apple Watch. This works if they’ve already been paired with an iPhone or iPad linked to your iCloud account. If they don’t, you’ll need to do some quick troubleshooting.

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Which Headphones Have the W1 or H1 Chip?

At the time of writing, the following Apple and Beats headphones have either the W1 or H1 chip. The steps in this guide apply to all of them.

If your headphones aren’t on the list, they’re probably just regular Bluetooth headphones. Check out our guide to connecting Bluetooth headphones to an Apple Watch for help instead.

  • Apple AirPods 1st Generation (W1)
  • Apple AirPods 2nd Generation (H1)
  • Apple AirPods Pro (H1)
  • BeatsX (W1)
  • Beats Studio 3 (W1)
  • Beats Solo 3 Wireless (W1)
  • Beats Powerbeats 3 Wireless (W1)
  • Beats Solo Pro (H1)
  • Powerbeats Pro (H1)
  • Powerbeats (H1)

For the purposes of troubleshooting your headphone connection, there’s no difference between the W1 and H1 chips. The H1 is just a newer chip model that enables “Hey Siri” support and otherwise improves the wireless performance of the headphones.

RELATED: What Is Apple’s W1 Chip?

Pair Your AirPods With Your iPhone or iPad First

If you have a new pair of AirPods, AirPods Pro, or other compatible headphones, pairing them with your iPhone or iPad will automatically pair them with your Apple Watch as long as both devices are connected to the same iCloud account.

First, go to the Home Screen on your iPhone or iPad.

If your headphones have a charging case, like the AirPods, AirPods Pro, or Powerbeats Pro, open it next to the iPhone or iPad—with the headphones still inside.

If your headphones have a power button, like the BeatsX or Powerbeats, press it for one second while holding them next to the iPhone or iPad.

When the setup animation appears, tap “Connect.” Your headphones are now paired with your iPhone and your Apple Watch.

connecting airpods

Selecting Your AirPods on Your Apple Watch

Whenever you play music or other audio with your Apple Watch, it should automatically output through your AirPods or other headphones. If not, you can force select it on your Apple Watch.

With your AirPods or other headphones turned on and out of their case, swipe up on the Home Screen on your Apple Watch to access the Control Center.

Scroll down and tap the “Audio Sources” icon.

You should see your headphones in the list. Tap their name to start playing audio through them. If you don’t see them listed, move on to the next section.

manual select

Manually Pairing Your AirPods With Your Apple Watch

While you should never have to do this, it’s worth knowing how to manually pair AirPods and other Apple or Beats headphones with your Apple Watch.

On your Apple Watch, go to Settings > Bluetooth.

If you see your headphones here, they’re ready to pair. Turn them on and hold them nearby to do so.

can't find apple watch

If you don’t see your headphones here, it’s time to pair them manually.

First, put your headphones into pairing mode. With AirPods, AirPods Pro, and other headphones with a charging case, open the case and hold down the sync button (either on the back or just inside the case) for five seconds. With headphones without a charging case, hold the power button for five seconds.

Within a few seconds, the headphones should appear under Devices. Tap them to pair.

pairing airpods

Now you should be good to go.

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