How to Prevent Your Apple Watch Display from Timing Out and Going Dark [UPDATED]

  1. One of the great annoyances of the Apple Watch and watchOS 1.0.1 is the 18 second display time out. There's no setting to define how long the display will remain lit, and it always goes dark at just the wrong time, especially when demoing or timing events. Here's a workaround.


The Apple Watch display is set to time out and go dark after about 18 seconds. I always wondered about this choice of time out period. Why not 15 or 20 seconds? I don't know why, but the 18 seconds number seemed to suggest something to me. I found it.

Tap the face, again, lightly at, say, 15 seconds.

Don't tap so hard as to activate Force Touch. That will bring up the watch face customization mode. Just tap lightly anywhere on the face, and you'll give the Apple Watch display 18 seconds (or so) of new life.

You can tap sooner than 15 seconds. The renewed time out period seems to start from the latest tap.

This accidental discovery is just a stopgap for when you're timing an event with the stopwatch, the chronograph or perhaps just the sweep second hand.

[UPDATE: Reader Steve B. suggests two other methods that work.

  1. Touch and hold a finger on a corner of the display. That will keep the display from timing out. 
  2. Spin the digital crown before a time out, just as the tap described above.]

Apple, I surmise, has enough technical feedback now on the average remaning battery life for users each night, and I'm betting, based on my own experience, that it's encouraging. In fact, since that report, my remaining battery life each night with watchOS 1.0.1 has been about 75 percent. This calls for Apple to allow a setting in the next released version of watchOS (please don't wait for 2.0) to allow the user to specify the time out period, say, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 90 seconds, 2 minutes and so on.

Meanwhile, tap, spin or touch away and keep your display alive. It's a pain, but it's all we have for now—that I know of.