Swimming with the watches

I love swimming. I always have. Growing up, I swam in pools, lakes, and the ocean (Love ya, California). Just recently, I got certified for SCUBA diving as well.

Screenshot of diving certification, name and details blurred
If you're wondering what the thing I'm holding in the photo is, it's a giant RDP table.

Point is, I like swimming. During the summer a few years back, I went to a summer camp (I have plenty of stories about this camp that I'm saving for later). Every day, they'd take a group of people to the lake. As someone who loves swimming, I brought a snorkeling mask. Before I get into the rest of the story, it's important to note that while the camp I was going to was 40 minutes from the lake (by car), there was a far larger and more popular Christian camp that was placed along the lake. Their campers absolutely infested the water most hours of the day, except of course for mass or bible study or whatever it is Christians do.

There was a nearby rock protruding out of the water near a cove that we were swimming in that day. We decided to swim over as a group. As a swimmer, I had been finding random things in the lake during the week, usually goggles, glasses, fishing hooks or trash. We all took turns climbing up and jumping off the rock. As we were leaving, I decided to see what was on the floor of the lake in the spot we were jumping.

It was an Apple Watch. A Series 4, 44mm in Rose Gold. And you know what? It displayed the time and a red lightning bolt when I held down the side button. This (for any non-apple-watch owners) meant that the watch worked, but that it was out of battery.

Damn you Tim Apple, you do make a good watch.

Once the watch sat on a charger, I was faced with a lock screen, and 1234 just didn't cut it. Right then, the issue was "how do I return this thing to the previous owner?"

You may be wondering why I would even bother returning it at all. The first reason was that I already owned an Apple Watch. The second reason was that if I lost a watch, I would certainly want it returned to me if some diver found it.

So, I had a few options. If you find a lost Apple Watch, go in this order.

  1. Check the Medical ID:
    1. Hold down the side button.
    2. If the owner set up a Medical ID, a slider will appear for it. Slide the slider.
    3. Scroll down and see if there are emergency contacts.
    4. Call the phone number of the emergency contact and ask them if a relative has lost an Apple Watch.
  2. If they don't have an Medical ID, try Find My:
    1. Look at the digital crown.
    2. If there is a red dot (S3) or red ring (S4+), the Apple Watch you are holding has cellular connectivity.
    3. Bring it somewhere with good cellular coverage (not a lake in the middle of the woods).
    4. Pray that the previous owner set their watch to Lost Mode, and that the previous owner continued to pay for the cellular plan for their watch.
    5. With luck, their phone number will appear for you to call.
  3. If that doesn't work, see if they have a distinct watch face background:
    1. See if you can pull a GeoWizard and track down the location of the photo based on the objects in the background.
  4. See if the owner has given up on the watch:
    1. Reset the watch.
    2. Try setting it up.
    3. If you are faced with an activation lock screen, the owner still has the watch linked to their account.
    4. If the censored email has a distinct domain, such as a place of work, try emailing the webmaster.
    5. If you are able to set it up without issue, the previous owner has given up on the watch because they removed it from their account. Free watch for you!
  5. If the owner still has it tied to their account, try taking it to an Apple Store and giving it to them:
    1. Do not ask for the owner's information.
    2. They will not give it to you.
    3. Tell them you found a lost Watch, and that you would like to give it them to return.
    4. If they say they can't, come back another day and try a different employee.
    5. I had to ask them to take it like 4 times before they took it.
Apple Watch on Medical ID screen, under Emergency Contacts are 2 people, identifying names blurred out, with phone numbers, everything but area codes blurred out.
This is what the Medical ID screen looks like, with phone numbers.

In the case of the watch I found at the lake, the owner given up on the watch and removed it from their account. It had been there a long time, so I don't blame them. The rubber watch band and metal pin had started breaking down underwater after all that time. I gave it to one of my parents as a gift, and they got a new band.

After that initial discovery, I looked especially hard for more lost Apple Watches. The really good spot to look was at the base of a much taller and more popular jumping rock, where I found 6 more Apple Watches, along with thousands of dollars in glasses, though that monetary value mostly comes from the prescriptions in the lenses. I found a particularly expensive pair of Ray-Bans with incredibly thick independently-magnified lenses, which not only were bifocal, but also auto-tinting in the sun ($$$). I still have them, too! If you lost your very custom Ray-Ban glasses at a lake near a large Christian camp, and they came off at the jumping rock, let me know what they look like and what the camp is called. You can email me at blogcontact@9021007.xyz. I'll mail them to you!

Glasses are tricky, because there's no good way of identifying the owners. Nobody writes a name or phone number on their glasses, so I can't look for them. The lost-and-found system at the nearby Christian camp is quite bad, and it's highly unlikely that someone who lost their glasses at the bottom of the lake would file a lost-and-found form.

Other interesting finds:

  • A complete wallet (years old, credit cards likely cancelled at this point, not that they'd be functional from all the corrosion)
  • A boat paddle
  • A sealed candy bar (I did not eat it)
  • A nice Casio watch
  • A fishing line with a (very dead) worm still on it
  • Earrings. So many earrings.
  • Cash and coins
  • Shoes (including a complete pair)
  • Well over a dozen glasses
  • Aerobie Throwing Ring
  • Fish Bait, still in jar

I don't go to summer camp anymore, but I hope to return to that lake in my spare time in the future, just to dive in and check if anything else can be found!

I didn't use SCUBA equipment for any of this diving (who brings SCUBA equipment to summer camp?), all you need is a pair of goggles... and thousands of kids with mildly wealthy parents jumping off a rock all summer.

picture of Apple Watch on wrist
Yes I blurred the feet, you Internet people are weird.

This watch was given up on by the former owner (removed from iCloud account), so I combined the existing band (blue) with my personal band (black) to give myself a "new" watch with a fun story to tell.

All the iCloud-locked ones were returned t0 the Apple Store, and hopefully then to their respective owners.