The Apple Watch's software is missing a key layer of security which has been used by iPhones and iPads for nearly two years, which makes it easy for thieves to reset a stolen watch and bypass any password or PIN.
While stolen iPhones with Find My iPhone enabled cannot be used without the email address and password of the owner's iCloud account - even if the phone is wiped and restored - this is not the case for the Watch. A stolen Apple Watch can be completely reset and used as new, massively increasing its resale value in comparison to stolen iPhones, which are mostly useless.
If you have forgotten - or a thief does not know - the Watch's passcode, you simply need to enter it incorrectly six times. You will then be locked out from trying for a few minutes, but during this time you only need to press and hold the side button until the power off screen appears, then force touch the 'power off' button and the option to 'erase all content and settings' appears. Tap this and the Watch wipes itself and reboots as if it is brand new, ready to be set up with a new iPhone and iCloud account.
As Jeff Benjamin of Apple news website iDownloadBlog explains, after resetting his Watch with a different iPhone to his own: "There was no request to verify the Apple ID that I was using previously, and absolutely nothing present in Watch OS 1.0 to prevent a thief from stealing my watch, resetting it, and pairing it with their own device."
Although the Watch cannot connect to the internet without first being paired with an iPhone - making a true Find My Watch feature impossible - Apple could implement a system whereby a Watch being setup after a restore asks for the password of the last iCloud account it was registered with, but this could make it difficult to sell the Watch legitimately, without setting it up for the buyer in person.
So while user data is completely safe and cannot be accessed by a thief, the Watch itself - which costs between £299 and £13,500 - will be a highly desirable target until its security is increased. Of course, stealing a watch strapped to someone's wrist is more difficult than lifting a phone from their bag or pocket, but we would expect such a simple software fix to be implemented quickly.
Adding the extra layer of security making stolen iPhone useless without the iCloud password dramatically lowered the startlingly high numbers of iPhones stolen. A year after the feature was introduced, iPhone thefts in London fell by half. Similar crimes fell by 40% in San Francisco and 25% in New York, reported Reuters.