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by Alec Farmer

In a world of GPS navigation and Google Maps, we’re becoming more and more reliant on technology to stay safe in the outdoors. Most of the time, it works like a charm, providing quick, easy to follow directions to the nearest mountain-top or motorway service station.

The trouble is, these devices rely on power, and out in the wild there aren’t many plug sockets.

When our trusty gadgets do fail, we’re so used to relying on them that we’re left cursing ourselves for leaving the most basic survival tool at home. The compass. Should that situation arise, have no fear. An analogue wristwatch will do just fine!

A watch as a compass

Take your watch off your wrist. Hold it flat and point the hour hand at the sun. Now measure halfway between the hour-hand and 12 o’clock and imagine a line from the axis of the watch to the midpoint. That’s south. Turn 180 degrees and you’ve found north!

A diagram that shows how to use a watch as a compass

Simple, right? We thought so.

However, there are a few caveats:

  • This method will only work in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Before 6am and after 6pm, always find the midpoint of the smaller angle.

Nontheless, it’s a handy little adventure hack that might just save you from a sticky situation one day.

Alec Farmer
Alec Farmer



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