The art of navigation with an analogue watch...

Analogue watches have so many advantages over other styles and models. As well as the technical benefits of a manual, automatic or solar movement which you never need to open, they allow you to observe wonderful components and complications which embrace the time-honoured science of horology.

But there is also a lesser-known function which analogues are capable of - they can be used as an emergency compass.

Using your watch as a compass... - Image Credit: Richard Brown

With even the cheapest analogue watch it is a simple task to plot a highly accurate North-South line as long as the watch is set for true local time.

If you are in the Northern Hemisphere:

1. Take off your watch and hold it horizontal.
2. Point the hour hand in the direction of the sun. Best to avoid noon.
3. Keeping the watch steady, bisect the angle between the hour hand and the 12 mark.
4. This will give you a perfect North-South line.
5. If the sun is setting or rising (hence why we avoid a high noon sun) you can then approximately calculate East and West and based on your extrapolation of a North-South line you can now accurately establish the direction of all four cardinal navigation points.

Using your watch as a compass... - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

If you are in the Southern Hemisphere the process is very similar, but you need to point the 12 mark at the sun and then bisect the angle between it and the hour hand. In both processes, the minute hand plays no part.

This is a fun technique to try and if you practise it alongside a good compass you will be surprised how accurate your North-South line is.