Spy School: How to Use an Analog Watch as a Compass to Find Direction

You can use a watch to determine general direction by pointing the hour hand at the sun. The midway point between the 12 o’clock position and the hour hand is south. In the Southern Hemisphere, instead point the 12 o’clock position at the sun. North is halfway between the sun and the hour hand.

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Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.


  • Reply August 8, 2013


    Wow! This is definitely a neat trick to show your friends, haha.

  • Reply October 14, 2013


    Does this correlate with hour hands on the other side of the watch? For example: if it is 9 o’clock would the midway point be between 9 and 12 at approximately 10 and a half or would you have to all the way around the watch to have a midway point of 4 and a half?

  • Reply June 15, 2017

    Rubén Sauz

    What if is six o’clock? You have to go clockwise or counterclockwise?

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