Thieves Can Reset Your Apple Watch Without a Password

Apple Watches can easily be factory reset by thieves without the owners' passcodes, staffers at the Apple-centric iDownloadBlog have discovered.

Their method, documented in a YouTube video posted earlier today (May 14), involves bringing up the power-off screen, choosing a factory-reset option and then placing the Apple Watch on a charger, which will wipe all user data and settings without the user's passcode.

Once factory reset, the watch is essentially like new and can be paired with any iPhone. Tom's Guide was able to quickly replicate the method.

Apple Watch owners are not required to set a passcode for their devices, unless they intend to use the watch for Apple Pay. If a passcode is set, the user must enter it every time the Apple Watch is removed from the user's wrist, and when it is rebooted.

Apple devices running iOS 7 or iOS 8 are protected by Activation Lock, which makes it nearly impossible to factory-reset an iPhone or iPad without the user's Apple ID password. The feature has been credited with a drop in the rate of iPhone theft in New York, San Francisco and London.

Intricate workarounds to get past an iPhone's lock screen are often discovered. However, they're often difficult to replicate, at least on the first try.

Apple did not immediately reply to a request for comment. We will update this story if the company comments.

Paul Wagenseil is a senior editor at Tom's Guide focused on security and gaming. Follow him at @snd_wagenseilFollow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Paul Wagenseil

Paul Wagenseil is a senior editor at Tom's Guide focused on security and privacy. He has also been a dishwasher, fry cook, long-haul driver, code monkey and video editor. He's been rooting around in the information-security space for more than 15 years at, SecurityNewsDaily, TechNewsDaily and Tom's Guide, has presented talks at the ShmooCon, DerbyCon and BSides Las Vegas hacker conferences, shown up in random TV news spots and even moderated a panel discussion at the CEDIA home-technology conference. You can follow his rants on Twitter at @snd_wagenseil.