Knowledge Base

How to Use Your Wrist Watch as a Compass

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Written by:

Jacky Chou

Wrist watches are not just for telling time; they can be used as compasses as well. This can come in handy in a number of situations, from orienting yourself on a hike to finding your way if you’re lost.


A compass can be a handy tool to have when you are hiking, camping, or doing any other outdoor activity. If you are in an area where there is no cell service or you do not have access to a GPS, a compass can help you find your way. While most people think of a compass as a physical object that you hold in your hand, you can also use your Wrist Watch as a compass.

There are a few different ways that you can use your wrist watch as a compass. The method that you use will depend on the type of watch that you have and the environment that you are in.

If you have an analog watch, the easiest way to use it as a compass is by holding it level and pointing the hour hand at the sun. The point where the hour hand meets the 12 o’clock mark is north. You can also use this method if you have a digital watch with an analog display.

If you only have a digital watch, or if it is too cloudy to see the sun, you can still use your watch as a compass. Start by holding your arm out straight in front of you and pointing at something in the distance. Turn your body until the watch says that it is pointing due north. Once you have found north, orient yourself so that north is at 12 o’clock and begin walking in whichever direction you want to go.

What You’ll Need

In order to use your wrist watch as a compass, you will need a few things:

-A watch with a seconds hand
-A flat surface
-A pencil or pen

With these materials, you’ll be able to find north quite easily!

Step One: Find the North Star

In the Northern Hemisphere, find the North Star, also called Polaris, by looking for the constellation Ursa Minor, the little dipper. Find the two stars at the end of Ursa Minor’s bowl. The one at the tip is Polaris.

Step Two: Line Up the Watch and the North Star

Look for the Big Dipper in the sky and find the two stars at the front of the dipper (these are called the pointer stars). Trace an imaginary line from these pointer stars towards the north star. The north star is located at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper constellation. Once you have found the north star, stop and line it up with the twelve o’clock position on your watch face.

Step Three: Read the Time

Now that you know how to find north using your watch, it’s time to learn how to read the time. Look at the hour hand on your watch and imagine a line running from the center of the watch out to the hour hand. This line is pointing in a northerly direction.

Now, find the current time on a clock orwatch. Let’s say it’s 3:00. This means that the hour hand is pointing directly at 3 o’clock, which means that the line running from the center of your watch to the hour hand is pointing directly north! You can use this method to find north at any time of day, as long as you know what time it is.

Step Four: Adjust for Daylight Savings Time

Watch Method:
The watch method is really only useful if your watch is set to standard time, not daylight savings time. For this reason, the watch method is generally only useful during half the year. If your watch is set to daylight savings time, you will need to adjust for that when using this method. To adjust for daylight savings time, add an hour to the time on your watch. So, if it is currently 1:00 PM standard time, you would add an hour to get 2:00 PM daylight savings time.


Assuming that your watch is set to the correct time, using it as a compass is easy. Simply point the hour hand in the direction you want to travel and orient the watch so that it is level. Then, halfway between the hour hand and 12 o’clock, draw an imaginary line. This line points due north and south.

Jacky Chou

Jacky Chou is the co-founder of Uberwrists and has gotten into watches from his father from a young age. His first watch was a black G Shock that was comedically large for his wrist. He appreciates watches from Seiko to a Patek Philippe.

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