In a previous issue of the Insider, we discussed how to use your analog watch for navigation. It’s a pretty simple process once you’ve learned the concept. But what about those that wear a digital watch? Are you just out of luck if you chose to have a watch that does the thinking for you? The answer is no! You can use your digital watch for navigation, it’s just going to require a little more thinking on your part.
How to Use a Digital Watch
The concept of using a digital watch for navigation is the same as using an analog watch. The obvious difference is, you don’t have hands on the face of the watch to use. So, you have to recreate them. This can be done using sticks laid out on the ground or by drawing lines in the dirt, a notepad and pen or visualization if you’re good at it.
To use our watch, we simply point the hour hand at the sun. North will be at the halfway point between the hour hand and the 12:00 mark on the sun.
As an example, let’s say it’s 3:05 in the afternoon. Holding the watch horizontal, point the hour hand at the sun, imagine that line between twelve and three. North will be on the opposite side of the watch, the farthest from the sun.
Mark It Out
Using a digital watch, you just have to visualize the clock face. Draw the position of the hour hand, as it would be, or lay a stick on the ground to represent it. Then mark the twelve o’clock position. The halfway point will be the north-south axis with the point farthest from the sun being north.
This method works in the northern hemisphere. At the equator, it will not work, you’ll need to find another method for direction finding there. In the southern hemisphere, the watch method works, with a little modification.
In the southern hemisphere, you point the twelve o’clock position at the sun. The halfway point between there and the hour hand is your north-south line with north being the farthest point from the sun.
Watch or Compass?
These are a couple very simple ways to orient yourself should you be caught without a compass. Keeping in mind that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west is another good thing to keep in mind.
While these methods will orient you, they are no substitution for a quality compass. Personally, I wear a Cammenga compass on my watch with a global needle, so it works in either hemisphere. Since it’s on my watch band, I always have it with me. There is no excuse not to have a decent compass when venturing out into the wilder places.
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