If you ever find yourself lost in the wilderness or adrift at sea with no way to tell which direction you’re traveling, an analog watch (or any similar clock face) can act as a compass and help you get your bearings. All you’ll need for this survival trick is an analog (not digital) clock or watch that’s set to the correct time and a clear view of the sun.
Hold the watch horizontally. This trick can be used anywhere during the day, when the sun is visible. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, North will be the lower bisection, and in the Southern Hemisphere, North will be in the upper half. . Lay the watch flat and face-up in your palm so that its face is parallel with the ground.
Point the hour hand in the direction of the sun. Turn the watch, your hand, or your entire body so that the hour hand of your watch is pointing directly at the sun. The time on the watch doesn’t matter, as long as it’s accurate.
If you’re having a hard time lining the hour hand up with the sun exactly, you may want to use a narrow object’s shadow to help you. Stick a twig or narrow post into the ground so that the shadow it casts is clearly visible. Then, line the shadow up with the hour hand of your watch. An object’s shadow is cast away from the sun, so lining your hour hand up with a narrow shadow is essentially the same as lining it up with the sun itself.
Bisect the angle between the hour hand and the 12 o’clock mark to find South.This is the tricky part. Find the middle point of the angle between your hour hand and the 12 o’clock mark on your watch. Before noon, you’ll have to measure clockwise from your hour hand to the 12 o’clock marking, while afternoon, you’ll have to measure counterclockwise from your hour hand to the 12 o’clock marking. The middle point between the two marks South, while the point directly across from it marks North.
- For example, if it’s exactly 5 o’clock in the afternoon and you’ve lined up your hour hand with the sun, South is the direction exactly between the 2 and 3 o’clock marks and North is the spot across from this point (exactly between 8 and 9).
- Note that during Daylight Saving Time, your watch is most likely one hour “off” from the “real” time. If this is the case, substitute 1 o’clock for 12 o’clock before finding your North-South line.