The best tool watches in the world often have two things in common: a rugged and robust construction capable of standing up to daily adventures, and high functionality. However, in the modern era of watchmaking, there is a clear consumer trend toward simpler aesthetics. Oftentimes, clean and clear dial designs win the hearts of would-be wearers, somehow out-punching their more visually complex competitors with a mixture of timelessness and legibility.
As understandable as that trend is, one of its obvious drawbacks is the necessary reduction of scales capable of presenting different kinds of information, which may well be desired by true outdoorsmen. And while the Praesidus A-11 doesn’t immediately seem to feature a compass function, it is actually perfectly possible to assess your orientation during daylight hours with this timepiece.
What makes the Praesidus A-11 particularly appropriate for this task, are its broad and highly legible hands. Using any analog watch as a compass is theoretically possible. There are, however, few that have both sufficient top-grade readability and strong enough exteriors to withstand the harsh conditions the wilderness could throw up at any moment.
So how does it work? How do you use your wristwatch as a compass? It’s very simple. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, hold your watch horizontally (parallel to the ground) and point the hour hand at the sun. If you find it easier, you can lay the watch on the ground for this stage. The point between the hour hand and the 12 o’clock indicates south. That means that theoretically at least, at midday, the hour hand itself should point south. To face north, simply stand with the hour hand pointing directly at your chest.
In the southern hemisphere, you need to point the 12 o’clock marker at the sun rather than the hour hand, but the rest of the process remains the same. Of course, given the size of the Earth (and some of its time zones in particular), there will be some variation depending on where you are situated within each timezone, but as a rough guide in emergencies when you find yourself stranded without a compass, this handy trick can be used to help you get out of trouble.