Peel pears, removing core from bottom end; leave stems intact. Slice about 1/4 inch from bottom of each pear to make a flat base. Set pears aside.
Combine water, sugar, and lemon juice in a 5-quart Dutch oven; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Place pears in Dutch oven in an upright position. Cover and simmer 20 minutes (straighten pears if they tilt while cooking).
Using a slotted spoon, transfer pears to a 10- x 6- x 2-inch baking dish. Heat apricot preserves over low heat in a small saucepan; strain, and pour sauce over pears; cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.