Here’s how to help the Apple Watch work with tattoos

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Save space on your HDD with CleanMyMac 2!

The Apple Watch has turned out to be a very interesting piece of technology– but it’s not without its faults. The device doesn’t work perfectly when you if you have a darker-colored tattoo on your wrist because it interferes with the sensors that detect if the watch is on your wrist along with your heartrate.

There are some ways you can make your watch usable again, but you’re going to have to sacrifice some usability in order to get the watch to behave nicely with your tattoo. Unfortunately, the issue is on the hardware side so there aren’t any full fixes– that’ll have to wait until the next iteration of the Apple Watch

How to fix issues with tattoos and the Apple Watch

Disable Wrist Detection

One of the biggest issues with tattoos and the Apple Watch is the fact that wrist detection doesn’t work as it should. Wrist detection is a setting that keeps the device unlocked when it senses that it’s on your wrist– but  sometimes this doesn’t function correctly when the device is placed above a tattoo.

You’ll have to turn off wrist detection in order to gain full functionality of the device. This means that the screen will sleep after a pre-determined period of time, similar to your iPhone or other Apple device. Unfortunately, you might have to disable the password on the watch to keep you from ripping your hair out.

Swap wrists

Yes, it’s obvious– but it might be one of your only options. You might have to swap the watch of a to a “clean” patch of skin for the device to work correctly (unless you have two full-sleeve tattoos). The watch was designed to work on either wrist, so you simply have to tweak some settings to accommodate for the change.

From the MyWatch app on your phone go to General-> Watch Orientation-> and choose the hand that you need.

We realize that this isn’t an ideal solution to the problem, but it’s one of the only ways to get the device back to full functionality.

External sensors

Apple’s official response to the problem is to add an additional heart rate tracker to compensate for the sensor’s shortcomings. This seems to be a bit of a cop-out, but it’ll work if you just so happen to have another heart rate sensor.

The Apple Watch supports a bluetooth connection with other fitness trackers in order to help increase the accuracy of the device. There are some chest-mounted heart rate device that can fill in for the issues with the Apple Watch’s heart rate sensors.

Put the Watch on your Ankle

Just kidding, that wouldn’t help at all.


We realize that none of these fixes are ideal, but Apple has placed Tattoo’d Apple Watch users in a tough spot. The problems with the watch are hardware-based, so there isn’t as much to do outside of waiting for the Apple Watch 2.

Hopefully the next version of the Apple Watch finds a way to make the sensor work with tattoos, because tattoos are becoming more and more popular as time goes on.


Follow MachMachines on Facebook to stay up to date with the latest content. 

About the Author
Brian Galloway is an unabashed tech geek based in Nashville, Tennessee. When he's not obsessively searching for the next computer upgrade, he's probably curled up on the couch with a book and the day's third cup of coffee.

Leave a Reply


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This