Using Watch as Compass

When out and about in the wilderness or even just taking a leisurely hike, having navigation tools on hand is always a good idea. One such tool that can come in handy unexpectedly is your watch! Specifically, using your watch as a compass can help orient you to find directions if you don’t have any other means of navigation available.

But how does one use their watch as a compass? It’s actually quite simple with the right technique. In this guide, we’ll walk through the steps needed to determine your orientation and find directions using only your trusty wristwatch. Whether an avid outdoorsman or not, these tips may come in handy when exploring new areas or getting lost on familiar trails.


To navigate your way effectively using a watch as a compass, there are certain steps that you must follow. The directions differ depending on whether you are in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere. It’s essential to determine your hemisphere first, and then follow these simple steps:

  1. Point the hour hand directly at the sun.
  2. Divide the angle between the 12 o’clock mark and the hour hand by two.
  3. The line passing through this midpoint and pointing towards the ground is roughly South.

In the Southern Hemisphere

  1. Hold your watch horizontally with 12 o’clock mark towards North.
  2. Imagine a line bisecting through 12 and its center
  3. This is South if you face this bottom end of this straight line

Determining Your Hemisphere

If you aren’t sure about which hemisphere you’re in, look for clues around you such as surrounding flora or fauna to help determine what part of world you’re currently at.

Although it may seem complicated, following these simple steps will provide accurate guidance while navigating any outdoor activities such as hiking, trekking or camping.

In the Northern Hemisphere

I have found an ingenious way of determining direction when I’m out in the wild and don’t have a compass at hand. All you need is a standard wristwatch! Here’s how it works:

Point the hour hand of your watch towards the sun to determine south. Sounds simple, right? Just remember this only works with regular time, not Daylight Saving Time.

Next, imagine a line halfway between that point and twelve o’clock on your dial. This position directly opposite from the imaginary line you drew on your watch will be North!

In case you can’t spot the sun or it’s cloudy outside, look for moss growing on trees or rocks as plants tend to grow more densely on surfaces facing north.

Bear in mind; holding your wristwatch steady and flat is necessary for accurate results. It would also be wise to steer clear of large metal objects such as cars or buildings which can interfere with magnetic fields and affect accuracy.

By following these simple steps and taking precautions like staying away from metallic structures while using your watch as a compass, anyone exploring wilderness areas like hikers or campers can find their way around effortlessly without getting disoriented!

In the Southern Hemisphere

Hey there, if you’re ever lost in the Southern Hemisphere without a compass, don’t fret. It’s actually possible to use your trusty watch as a navigation tool! Here’s how I do it:

Firstly, point your hour hand towards the sun. Now, this is where it differs from Northern Hemisphere navigation – instead of pointing the hour hand halfway between the sun and 12 o’clock position, you should point it directly at the sun because of our location south of the equator.

Next up, look for the angle created by splitting between your hour hand and 12 o’clock direction. Bisecting this will identify which way North is while its opposite end points towards South.

Lastly, make sure to check magnetic declination adjustment if necessary in order to determine True North once you have found north.

Just these few steps can turn your average watch into an effective compass tool when exploring unknown territories without access to traditional navigational aids like maps or GPS systems. Though keep in mind that there might be some variation on which hemisphere you are located in so always ensure that you have reliable information about magnetic declination for precise accuracy when figuring out direction using my method!

Determining Your Hemisphere

To use your watch as a compass, you need to determine which hemisphere you’re in. In the Northern Hemisphere, hold the watch horizontally and point the hour hand at the sun. The North will be halfway between 12 on your watch (the hour hand) and its position closest to the sun. If there’s any doubt about which end is really pointing toward noon, remember that daylight savings time moves an hour away from solar time by convention.

In contrast, Southern Hemisphere users would instead line up twelve o’clock with our method – I mean aim it at where the sun is NOT! Then draw an imaginary line halfway between this direction and approximately one o’clock – basically rotating half around a circle while keeping track of where that line points until it cuts northwards across some part of Earth’s surface.

Keep in mind that if you’re close to the equator (within 15 degrees of it), this method may not work well since shadows are difficult to observe; therefore, other techniques should be used.


When using a watch as a makeshift compass, there’s a few thingamajigs you gotta keep in mind. Hear me out:

  • Get your watch ready: Before you start pointing at the sky with your timepiece, make sure it’s calibrated properly. First, align the hour hand with the sun’s position. Then, twist your watch until its minute hand is facing the sun too. In a snap, your 12 o’clock marker should be pointing South if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere or North if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Double-check with landmarks: relying solely on a wristwatch isn’t very reliable when orienting yourself. So it’s crucial to cross-reference physical cues like mountains or trees to verify what direction you’re headed.
  • Watch for geographical changes: Here’s another thing-a-ma-bob: magnetic variation might change depending on where you are on this planet of ours. The angle between geographic north and magnetic north (also called declination) can vary based on location and over time.

Bring backup gear: Let’s face it – watches aren’t always 100% accurate when giving directions. That being said, bringing an updated map or GPS device would be wise as an additional navigation aid

If y’all follow these tricks of mine, I reckon that’ll help ya navigate through tough terrain while outdoorsy activities like camping trips, hikes, backpacking excursions – even orienteering!


When it comes to using your trusty timepiece as a compass, proceeding with caution is key. It’s important to note that this method may not be infallible and could lead you astray. Putting all of your faith in just a wristwatch or smartwatch for navigation purposes could also result in danger when entering unknown terrain or adverse weather conditions. To avoid any mishaps, I always make sure to carry an array of navigational tools including a map, compass, GPS device, or emergency signaling equipment. Furthermore, understanding the nuances and functions of your watch before relying on it as a compass is essential. Some watches have limitations on accuracy or calibrated features that require regular maintenance for peak performance. Always err on the side of caution by testing your watch’s accuracy and comparing readings to other reliable navigation devices before venturing deep into the wilderness.

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