Best Compass Watches - Mens Outdoor Survival Essentials review

How To Use a Watch as a Compass – Updated Guide 2023

Looking for a tutorial on How To Use a Watch as a Compass then this 2023 guide will help you know what to do in those sticky situations.

If you have been wondering how to use a watch a compass then this 2023 updated guide will get you started.

This little survival trick could even save your life.

Yes, your analog watch looks all shades of amazing and tells the time with absolute accuracy, but guess what?

Your analog watch performs way more than just helping you to tell the time accurately.

Besides telling time, do you know that your analog watch can act as a compass?

Surprising right?

Well, we felt the same way the first time we learned about this.

If you’re ever lost in the wilderness or find yourself in the middle of the ocean with no clue which direction you’re traveling, an analog watch on your wrist could save the day by helping you get your bearings, how you may imagine?

Well, read on as today’s post will provide you with some exciting tips on how you can use your good old analog watch to find your way around.

But before we get into the nitty-gritty of this post, keep in mind that your analog watch needs to be set correctly.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Important note: we dont recommend putting yourself in an extreme situation trying this, however if you are going on a hike through unknown dense forests then we recommend a dedicated compass watch to be worn over using this trick.

The Northern Hemisphere trick

Hold your analog watch horizontally.

If you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and looking for a compass to figure out where you are but can’t seem to find any?

Well, it’s time to hold your analog watch horizontally and let it do the magic.

And just so you know, this trick will be very accurate if you find yourself in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly during the day, when the sun is still apparent.

Once you have your analog watch in a horizontal position, place it on your palm with the face sitting up in such a way that the face is parallel to the ground.

Have the hour hand pointing to the direction of the sun

To achieve this, you only need to turn the watch or move your entire body until you notice that the hour hand of your analog watch is directly pointing to the sun.

The time displayed on your analog watch doesn’t really matter, so long it is accurate.

For people finding it challenging to align the watch’s hour hand to the sun, you can improvise with a narrow object like a stick or twig.

If you have a twig, you can plant it to the ground and take advantage of the shadow it casts.

Once you have a clear shadow, you can simply just align the shadow with the hour hand.

Wasn’t so hard, was it?

Find South

Finding south with your traditional compass is a stroll in the park, but the process can be super tricky when using your wristwatch.

To correctly find South, you’ll need to dissect the angle that sits between your watch’s hour hand and the 12 o’clock position.

If it isn’t noon yet, you have to measure the opposite direction (i.e., clockwise).

If it is noon, you do the complete opposite (anti-clockwise).

The middle point should be South, while the other end away from it marks the North.

Let’s give you some examples so you know exactly what we are saying.

Suppose your watch is reading 5 o’clock, and you have successfully aligned the hour hand to the sun, the South will sit between 2 o’clock and 3 o’clock, while the North is between 8 and 9.

Note: While trying to figure out your location using your analog watch, remember that Daylight Saving Time is one hour different from real-time.

In that case, you must switch 1 o’clock to 12 o’clock.

This will give you a more accurate reading while allowing you to figure the North-South line without a hassle.

The Southern Hemisphere trick

Using your watch as a compass in the Southern Hemisphere is a little different, so you’ll have to do things a little differently.

Read on to learn how.

  1. Hold your analog watch horizontally
  2. Just like we explained in the Northern Hemisphere, lay your watch on your palm horizontally, specifically in a position where you’re able to spot the sun.
  3. Pointing the 12 o’clock mark to the direction of the sun

This is the major difference between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere.

So instead of aligning the hour hand to the direction of the sun as you did in the Northern Hemisphere, in the Southern Hemisphere, you have to align the 12 o’clock mark to the direction of the sun.

Doing this will let you account for the differences in sun orientation between both hemispheres.

And in case you’re finding it hard aligning the 12 o’clock mark to the sun, you can do the shadow trick we explained earlier.

Finding North

The middle point between the 12 o’clock mark and your watch’s hour hand is the North.

The other end just across the watch’s face marks South.

Let’s give you some examples, so you understand what we are saying.

Let’s say your watch is displaying 9 o’clock in the morning and the 12 o’clock has been correctly aligned to the sun; the North will sit between 10 and 11, while the South is between 4 and 5.

Frequently asked questions.

How can I use my analog timepiece as a compass in Australia?

If you have an analog watch, you can use it as a compass in Australia.

All you have to do is align the 12 o’clock mark to the direction of the sun.

The midpoint between 12 and 1 should give you the North-south line.

How accurate is using your analog timepiece as a compass?

Provided you’re able to correctly align the hour hand to the direction of the Sun in the Northern Hemisphere and the 12 o’clock hour mark to the direction of the sun in the Southern Hemisphere, you should be able to get an accurate reading for the North-South line.

When can you use your analog timepiece as a compass?

These days with your smartphone close to you and some fancy smartwatch on your wrist, you will not have any problem figuring out your location or direction, as these devices come equipped with powerful compass functionality.

Unfortunately, when the only thing you have is your good old analog watch, you can always improvise to figure out your current bearings.


Sure, using your analog watch as a compass isn’t something new.

Nevertheless, the process can be pretty tricky.

Thankfully, with the tips highlighted in today’s post, you should be able to get the hang of the whole process without sweating it.