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Here’s How Long the watchOS 5.3.1 Update Takes to Finish



The watchOS 5.3.1 update is live and it brings a series of security updated and fixes to the Apple Watch. This is the latest update and it builds on the watchOS update from last year without major new features. This is in addition to all the watchOS 5 Apple Watch features. This is a small, but important update. It will take some time to install, but not as long as the watchOS 5 update.

The watchOS 5.2 update is a free download for the Apple Watch Series 1, Apple Watch Series 2, Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple Watch Series 4. It is not coming to the original model.

Even when your watchOS 5.3 download is quick this takes some time to complete because of the transfer process. Before you start, make sure you follow these steps to take before installing watchOS 5.3.1, and read our guide on how to install watchOS updates.

How Long Does the watchOS 5.3.1 Update Take?

This is how long the watchOS 5 update takes to finish installing.

This is how long the watchOS 5 update takes to finish installing.

Expect to spend about 8-15 minutes installing the watchOS 5.3.1 update if you are already on watchOS 5.3. This may take longer on the first day as download speeds are typically slower due to high demand.

If you are upgrading directly from watchOS 4.3, this process may take much longer as you need to download a bigger update and this adds to both download and transfer times.

This time doesn’t include the time it takes to install iOS 12.4.1, which you need before installing watchOS 5.3.1. You need to plug your Apple Watch in, it needs at least 50% battery life and you need WiFi.

This table outlines how long the watchOS 5.3.1 update takes to finish. This is the same for all Apple Watch models..

Task Time
Backup Apple Watch (Optional) 1-30 minutes (Automatic)
watchOS 5.3.1 Download 5-10 minutes
watchOS 5.3.1 Update Installation 5-10 minutes
Total watchOS 5.3.1 Update Time 10 minutes to 20 minutes

In many situations, you can finish the watchOS 5 upgrade in about 30 to 60 minutes and a watchOS 5.3.1 update in less than 15 minutes. The watchOS upgrade process is slow compared to iOS updates, so plan for that. It took us 16 minutes to install and then about 3 minutes for the watch to reboot before we could use it.

The best time to install watchOS 5 is when you have plenty of time and you are at home with your Apple Watch on the charger and your iPhone nearby. Don’t try this in a public setting or at work if you need to leave anytime soon.

Once the watchOS 5.3.1 update install finishes, you will see a notification on your iPhone. Be sure to start by, testing out the new watchOS 5.3 features show below.



  1. Janos

    10/22/2018 at 1:24 am

    IT TAKES AGES!!!!!
    I installed the latest OSX and somehow it disconnect my watch and had to update the watchos 5 and now I’m stuck with an inactive Watch because the update just doesn’t wanna finish. On proper wifi is estimated for 6 and 8 hours and I just didn’t manage to be on wifi for long enough. Just one more thing in my growing list of annoyances with Apple.

    • Kate

      03/09/2019 at 6:13 am

      Definitely agree here! Clicked download and install at about 8pm last night, it said 6 hours. At 10pm it said 4 hours. It finished downloading at 11am this morning, and still says installing.

  2. elynnjean

    03/13/2019 at 11:04 am

    It was taking ALL morning – and they I realized it seems to go faster when I have the “Software Update” screen open. So now I am sitting here touching the screen every 30 seconds to keep moving. There is no way for me to see on the watch that it is updating. SMH

  3. Mary

    04/07/2019 at 6:57 am

    This taking forever. I do not have another 6 hours to wait for the install to complete. I have places to be. So now I have an unusable watch because the stupid install won’t complete. Very expensive tech item that is useless….

  4. Cheri Kerstetter

    04/07/2019 at 8:05 am

    It took over 3 hours to update! Absolutely ridiculous!

  5. Rob H

    05/15/2019 at 6:31 pm

    I had to delete the update and start over 5 times before I could get it to go.
    I also had to sit and watch the phone to ensure it did not kick in screen save. If it did, the download would pause.

    Download started 5:56, completed 6:17
    Prep started 6:17, completed 6:21
    Verify started 6:21, completed 6:21
    Install started 6:21, completed 6:26

    The entire time the phone reported anywhere from 3 days to 17 minutes, to 8 hours, etc.

    Really a painful process

  6. Joseph A

    05/23/2019 at 1:34 am

    I just got my Apple Watch series 3. It is my first Apple Watch. I definitely do not like that it took 7 hours for the update to fully be downloaded and installed luckily I had the day off and the next day off. Best time to do it. Apple needs to find a new way to update their watches cause that is way too long. Most people do not have time for this.

  7. CooCooYT

    06/16/2019 at 3:22 pm

    I’m updating mine right now and mine says 16 hours…

    dang it

  8. Sarah

    07/28/2019 at 12:15 am

    Mine also said 6+ hours to download! I restarted a couple times because it seemed to get stuck. Finally i started looking online to see if this was a common thing. I came across a blog that said to turn off the bluetooth on your iphone, AFTER it gives you the estimated time in hours. Once i did that, after a few minutes it went back & forth between 6, 8 and then 4 hours. Then it jumped to 15 minutes and went pretty fast. The preparing and installing stage went fairly quick to. Definitely recommend turning off your bluetooth on your IPhone to speed up this update!

    • linda

      08/09/2019 at 3:05 am

      thank you definetely faster and keep the screens refreshed

  9. Renelle

    09/30/2019 at 3:08 pm

    This is crazy. Have spent several days trying to get the update to complete. So the watch has been useless for 4 days now. It has been “updating” this time for 6 hours and still says 33 minutes left. Has shown days before. I agree most of the time it is minutes, but this update must be glitchy.

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