Navigation Using an Analog Watch

Navigation using an analog watch is based on the principle of where the sun rotates in the sky based on whether you are in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun rotates along the Southern part of the sky. The earth mostly rotates along the equator that divides the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, so for us Northerners, the sun will be in the Southern part of the sky. You can navigate with a watch using these principles that drive our natural world.

One of the common practices in hunting is to hunt the North-facing slopes. This side of a hill or mountain stays generally cooler than the other slopes that face other directions.

When building a home in the Northern Hemisphere, Southern facing homes are generally brighter and warmer for a larger portion of the day than Northern facing homes are. Northern facing homes will stay naturally cooler.

An analog watch can be used to determine a North-South divide with that principle in mind.

timex expedition is a cheap way to learn how to navigate with a watch
The Timex Expedition is a cheap way to learn how to navigate with a watch

How to Navigate With a Watch:

Step 1: Determine your Hemisphere

Northern Hemisphere Navigation Using a Watch

Step 2-NH: Point the watch’s hour hand at the sun

Step 3-NH: Divide or bisect the space between the hour hand and 12-o-clock

This is your North and South divide. South is the side closer to the sun and the side opposite of that is North. When I mention ‘closer to the sun,’ that can be read as the side that is has less distance to travel between the hour mark and 12-o-clock on the watch.

As an example, imagine it is 8am in the morning and the sun is just above the horizon. Point the 8-o-clock hour hand at the sun and find the midway point between 8am and 12pm. This results in 10am. The 10am hash is South and 4am hash is North. 1-o-clock is West and 7-o-clock is East.

Southern Hemisphere Navigation Using a Watch

Step 2-SH: Point your 12-o-clock at the sun

Step 3-SH: Divide the 12-o-clock position and the hour hand in half

This is the North and South divide. The side with less distance to cut is the North line.

As an example, if it is 10am and your 12-o-clock position is pointed at the sun, then 11-o-clock will be North. Opposite of that at 5-o-clock will be South. The side closest to the sun is North when you are in the Southern Hemisphere.

Watches with Built In Navigation

If this seems too hard, there are plenty of watches on the market with built in navigation. My favorite of these are ABC watches, which stands for watches that have an altimeter, barometer, and a compass.

Happy exploring!

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