It's sometimes claimed that the single most used app on the Apple Watch is 'Ping iPhone' - the clever feature that helps you find the paired iPhone by getting it to make a noise. And it's certainly brilliantly useful. But what happens if you lose the Apple Watch itself?

Fortunately there are steps you can take to recover it, or (if it's been stolen) prevent the thief from being able to unlock it or access the data. And in this article we talk you through them. (If you've lost an iDevice instead, try How to find a lost iPhone or iPad.)

Use Find My iPhone, on your iPhone

Like all of Apple's mobile devices, the Apple Watch can be located using the Find My iPhone service. Probably the simplest method is to track the watch's location on the paired iPhone.

Open the Watch app on the iPhone. At the top of the My Watch tab, you'll see your paired watch and its name and size. Tap this to see a few more details of your watch, and a lower-case I, which you should tap.

On this screen you'll see options to Unpair Apple Watch, but instead we'll hit Find My Apple Watch. (Despite the name this will open the Find My iPhone app and show you all of your devices, not just the watch. In fact you may prefer to go direct to the Find My iPhone app without opening the Watch app at all.)

How to find a lost Apple Watch: Watch app

You may have to enter your Apple ID and/or password before being shown the device locations.

How to find a lost Apple Watch: Find My iPhone

By default you'll be shown all of your devices, but if they're widely spread out there map probably won't be much help. So tap on the watch in the list below the map, and we'll only see that, in a nicely zoomed in map view. You should be able to see not only what street it's on but the approximate house number. Tap the car icon to get driving directions to the location in Apple Maps.

And there's more. Tap Actions at the bottom of the screen and you can Play Sound - making it ping, just like the watch does to the phone when it's lost. You can also put it into Lost Mode, which can both lock it and provide contact information so the finder can return it more easily, or erase it entirely.

How to find a lost Apple Watch: Lost Mode

Use Find My iPhone, on your Mac

If it's more convenient, look up the watch's location on a Mac (or PC) instead.

Go to iCloud.com in your browser of choice and enter your Apple ID and password. Click on the Find My iPhone icon.

How to find a lost Apple Watch: Find My iPhone on Mac

As on the iPhone, you'll see a map showing the location of all your Apple devices; because of the larger screen it may be easier to make out details, but it won't be as convenient to lug with you if you decide to chase down the watch on foot or in your car. (Please don't confront watch thieves in person, valued reader. Ring the police!)

The interface is slightly different, too: to focus only on your watch, rather than seeing all the devices, you click on the drop down menu at the top, which by default will be labelled ALl Devices. Click on your watch and you'll zoom in.

As before, your options are to Play Sound, go into Lost Mode, or Erase Apple Watch - the nuclear option.