How to

How to use your watch as a compass

Did you know you can not only use your watch to tell time, but also to tell you true North?

Fear not dear reader, as you own an analogue watch, thus you shall never get lost in time, nor on your hikes across the globe.. Yep, your watch can function as a make-shift (approximate) compass. So let your inner Bear Grylls loose and read on if you want to know more..

First key thing to note here is: Where on earth are you? Literally, where on the planet..

  • Northern Hemisphere: North America and all of Europe, most of Asia, big part of Africa, and a bit of South America
  • Southern Hemisphere: Australia & Oceania, most of South America, a small part of Africa, a smaller part of Asia.
  • Tropics: Region of the Earth by the Equator, some overlap with the above two

To avoid having to maneuver yourself in the strangest positions, easiest is to take of your watch and hold it flat (dial facing upwards) on your palm while you do this. Please note that this only works with an analogue watch that is also set to the correct time..

Watch used here is a Gavox Legacy Field Officer 346.1

Northern Hemisphere:

  1. While holding the watch, find the sun;
  2. Then simply point the hour hand towards the sun;
  3. Now look at the imaginary line between the hour hand and the 12 o’clock mark;
  4. The exact middle of this, will be true SOUTH.
In this picture, pointing the hour hand at the sun, would mean that True South is at approximately the 4 minute mark past 12 o’clock. (Mid-way between 12 and the Hour hand)

So simply put, say it is 2 o’clock. Point the hour hand (2) at the sun. True South will be the 1 o’clock position.

Southern Hemisphere:

  1. Steps 1-3 are exactly the same as above;
  2. The exact middle of the imaginary line between the hour hand and the 12 o’clock mark will be true NORTH.

So simply put, say it is 2 o’clock. Point the hour hand (2) at the sun. True North will be the 1 o’clock position.


  1. This won’t work for you, you have… too much sun (say what?!)!
  2. Two solar maxima mean we’re not exactly sure where this trick will guide you, but likely, not where you want to go.
  3. So if you’re in the Tropics – please note that this does not work and enjoy the sun 🙂

What this article also learns us is, that most of our fellow countrymen in Belgium regularly lose track of north, as the prerequisite for that would be that there’s actual sun to help us find our way 😉

1 comment

  1. Nice to see it again ,
    wait till i have a GMTGMT A GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) complication is a feature found in some watches that allows the wearer to track two time zones simultaneously. It typically includes a 24-hour hand and a bezel or a second hour hand that can be adjusted independently of the main hour hand to track the time in a different time zone.

    [Learn More]

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