Top 10 Best Compass Watches [List & Guide]
A compass is a tool that needs no further introduction. As described by Wikipedia, it is a ”device that shows the cardinal directions used for navigation and geographic orientation.”
Naturally, a compass watch is a watch that incorporates a compass function.
A compass can be convenient to have for a lot of different reasons and occasions, but it is primarily in the outdoors that you find it most important. Whether you are trying to navigate during a hike or want to find the correct directions when camping.
A compass watch is therefore a convenient and practical tool to have with you as it allows you to technically wear the compass on your wrist and not having to carry it in your hand. With a compass watch, you have access to all the information you need on your wrist.
Because of the areas and situations where compasses are used, you can expect compass watches to be built for the outdoors. And most of them are. This means that they are built to be robust, tough, and durable, suitable for outdoor wear.
In this article, we are looking closer at the best and most popular compass watches on the market. Many of them also incorporate a number of additional features and functions that may be handy for the outdoors. This can be everything from altimeters, thermometers, GPS functions, and much more.
Without further ado, let’s dig in.
Best compass watches
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Suunto Core Outdoor Sports Watch
Starting off this list, we have the Suunto Core outdoor sports watch. This is a smartwatch that offers much more than just a compass function.
First and foremost, it is presented with a rugged and tough resin case. It has a large screen which presents the time and of course all of the key information regarding its different functions. And in terms of functions, it really has a lot to offer. This includes a storm alarm, altimeter, barometer, and of course a compass.
Furthermore, the watch also has a dual time, date display, alarm, as well as a depth meter up to 30 feet.
The watch is tough, robust, and durable, and built to handle harsh and demanding conditions. After all, a compass function is something you use for the outdoors. This watch will work as a great sports and outdoor partner for all of your adventures and activities and provide you with the most important information you may need.
- Water-resistance: 30meters
- Key functions: altimeter, barometer, compass, weather indicator
Garmin 010-02064-71 Instinct Tactical
Another popular sports smartwatch is the Garmin 010-02064-71 Instinct Tactical.
This watch is built as a tough, tactical outdoor smartwatch that is built to handle harsh conditions but also to provide key details and information via its many different functions. In fact, this watch is built according to U. S. Military standard 810G for thermal, shock, and water resistance. The water-resistance of this watch is 100m/330 feet.
The design incorporates buttons on its sides and what each of the buttons does is indicated via the text on the dial. The watch has a large LCD screen that displays all the key information. Speaking of functions, this watch of course has a compass, but in addition to this, it also has a GPS, heart rate monitor, activity tracker, stress measurer, and phone connectivity which allows the watch to display notifications from your phone.
The battery life is up to 14 days which is quite good for a smartwatch.
All in all, if you’re looking for a compass watch that is suitable for outdoor activities, there are few watches that are as suitable for the purpose as this Garmin.
- Key functions: GPS, heart rate monitor, smart notifications
- Water-resistance: 100m/330 feet
- Battery life: up to 14 days
Timex T2N721 Intelligent Quartz Compass
Some people prefer a more classic alternative for a compass watch rather than a digital or smartwatch. And in these cases, the Timex T2N721 intelligent quartz is a great option.
This watch is presented with a stainless steel case with a diameter of 45mm and has mineral glass at its front. Already at first glance, it is evident that this watch is sporty, robust, and durable, just the way this watch is meant to be built. It’s also refreshing to see a watch with a more classic, vintage-inspired design which isn’t digital or doesn’t have a screen but rather displays everything with regular hands. So for those who want a compass watch that isn’t a digital watch, this is our favorite option.
The watch has a water resistance of 100m/330 feet and has an off-white dial for a more classic appearance. At 6 o’clock, it has a date window which can be practical for everyday wear. Furthermore, the dial also has an analog tide tracker which measures high or low tide. It is also equipped with a thermometer that measures air & water temperature as well as an analog compass. With that said, despite not being digital, it still has a number of useful functions.
For improved legibility, it also features Timex’s signature Indigo light-up watch dial as well as luminous hands.
- Water-resistance: 100m/330 feet
- Diameter: 45mm
- Crystal: Mineral glass
Casio SGW300HB-3AVCF Multi-Function Sport Watch
Next up, we have the Casio Multi-Function SGW300HB-3AVCF. And just as its design reveals, it is built for the outdoors and to handle harsh conditions.
It is presented with a 50mm resin case with a mineral crystal at the front as well as a large LCD digital screen. The watch has an overall sporty design with a military-green colored bezel and black accents as well as exposed screws on the bezel. For comfort and practicality, it is presented on a nylon strap which is also military-green.
Being a digital watch, it is presented with a quartz movement. The water resistance is 100m/330 feet and includes a ton of useful functions for outdoor usages, such as a barometer, thermometer, world time, countdown timer, LED light, 5 alarms, a digital compass, and more. In other words, a ton of functions that can come in handy for this type of watch. The advanced pressure sensor presents numerous benefits which also enable things like weather predictions. Since it is built for the outdoors, it also has a low-temperature resistance of up to -10C/14F. All of this information is presented on its large LCD screen.
- Water-resistance: 100m/330 feet
- Diameter: 50mm
G-Shock Mudman Compass G9300
The Casio G-Shock Mudman G9300 is one of the most serious and robust outdoor sports watches on the market. And this is a watch that is really built for the purpose. Not only does it have a tough and durable construction, but it also has a ton of useful functions built for the outdoors.
Naturally, the watch is large and bulky, as you expect a tough watch to be. It has a large black resin case that is built to be shock-resistant and durable. It is powered by a Solar quartz movement which is powered by ambient and sunlight. The watch has a large LCD screen divided into different sections for displaying the information. For improved legibility, it has a full auto EL backlight with afterglow. It also has an impressive water resistance of 200m/660 feet which brings it into dive watch territory.
When it comes to the functions, it has a thermometer, moon graph, as well as a digital compass which is designed to displays direction as one of 16 points. In addition, the measuring range is 0 to 359 degrees. The compass also has a graphic direction pointer with bidirectional calibration. The thermometer display range is -10 to 60 C. The watch also displays world time in 31 different timezones, has 4 daily alarms, and 1 snooze alarm.
You’ll also find a number of standard functions that you can expect in a G-Shock such as a stopwatch, elapsed time, countdown timer, and full auto-calendar.
As you can see, this watch certainly has a lot to offer in addition to its compass function. But most importantly, it is built for the outdoors which is where most people find themselves wearing this watch.
- Movement: Quartz solar
- Water-resistance: 200m/660 feet
- Key functions: moon data, digital compass, moon data, world timer
- Battery life: 8 months
Casio PRO TREK PRG-600YB-3CR
The Casio Pro Trek PRG-600YB-3CR is a large, bulky, and robust outdoor sports watch equipped with a Compass function. It features a 52mm case and is designed as a regular analog watch which is nice for those who prefer analog over digital or smartwatches. However, this watch combines the best of both worlds and also incorporates a small digital screen positioned at 6 o’clock.
The watch has a water resistance of 100m/330 feet which is quite good and suitable for swimming. The watch is equipped with a double LED and full auto LED light. The watch is driven by a quartz movement and incorporates a solar function, meaning it gets charged by ambient and solar light. Since it is built for the outdoors, it is also built to be low-temperature resistant.
The bezel is made in stainless steel ad has a brushed finish for a sportier look. The bezel has markings in black which are abbreviations of different cities, which are used for the world timer.
A nice aspect of this watch is that Casio has paid great attention to the details of the watch’s dial. It has a lovely grey sunburst finish which reflects the light beautifully, and if you look closely, you’ll be able to notice that it is a solar dial constructed to lead the light to its movement. When fully charged, it has a battery life of 7 months. The dial has applied markers with luminescence and large, broad hands with luminescence applied to them as well.
When it comes to functions, it also has a lot to offer, including a digital compass, thermometer, altimeter, barometer, and more.
All in all, this is a more stylish and versatile outdoor watch with a compass function that looks more like an everyday watch rather than a smartwatch.
- Diameter: 52mm
- Water-resistance: 100m/330 feet
- Movement: Solar quartz
Casio SGW-1000-1ACR Triple Sensor
The Casio SGW-1000-1ACR is a sporty digital watch with a water resistance of 100m/330 feet, constructed with a durable and tough case. The watch has a large LCD screen and is powered by a quartz movement. The LCD screen is divided into three sections which makes it easy to read all the different functions. On top of the screen, it has mineral glass. For improved legibility, it also has an LED backlight with afterglow.
The case is unsurprisingly large and bulky with a diameter of 54.7mm
The watch is equipped with a compass bezel which adds to its sporty appearance but obviously is also very practical. The compass on this watch is also digital, for a more accurate reading.
Like most compass watches, it has a triple sensor which means it has a thermometer, altimeter, and barometer. Additional functions include a world time which displays 31 different timezones, 4 daily alarms, 1 snooze alarm, stopwatch, countdown timer, and an auto-calendar. In other words, everything you may need in an outdoor watch and then some.
The quartz movement inside has a battery life of an impressive 3 years.
- Diameter: 54.7mm
- Water-resistance: 100m/330 feet
- Movement: quartz
Casio G-Shock Master of G Mudmaster Twin Sensor Watch GG1000-1A8
For ultimate toughness, look no further than the G-Shock Mudmaster range. Here is the reference GG1000-1A8 which defines everything that the Mudmaster is known for and stands for.
Already at first glance, the G-Shock shows off its bold and sporty design with a large and bulky case with a diameter of 56mm. The case has a large and aggressive case design with sporty lines. The crown and pushers are built to withstand dirt and mud and have multiple gaskets to keep dirt out. It also has a water resistance of 200m/660 feet. It is also shock-resistant.
Like all G-Shock watches, it is packed with different functions that may come in handy for outdoor use. First off, it has a twin sensor which makes it possible to check the temperature and direction via the compass. The compass displays the direction as one of 16 points and also measures from 0 degrees to 359 degrees. It also features bidirectional calibration as well as magnetic declination correction.
Something that many people will appreciate is that the watch combines both analog timekeeping and a digital LCD screen. The hands are sword-shaped, large, and have applied luminescence on them.
In addition to these functions, it also has a number of useful functions such as world time which keeps track of 31 time zones, hourly time signal, 5 daily alarms, stopwatch, countdown timer. And on top of this, you also have all the standard features that you can expect to find in a G-Shock, such as month, date, day, am/pm indicators.
- Water-resistance: 200m/660 feet
- Movement: quartz
- Diameter: 56mm
Casio PRO TREK PRW-3510Y-8CR
The Casio Pro Trek PRW-3510Y-8CR is a digital quartz watch built for the outdoors. It is presented with a tough black case with a diameter of 55mm with an all-black finish. For durability, it is presented on a green rubber/silicone strap.
The fact features a large LCD screen with a compass bezel. In front of the screen, it has a Hardlex crystal. And behind the dial sits the Solar quartz movement, meaning that this watch is charged by ambient and solar light which is always convenient.
It is built for harsh conditions and the outdoors and is resistant to degrees down to -10 degrees celsius. To go with this, the water resistance is 200m/660 feet, meaning you can go diving and swimming with it without any issues. For improved legibility, it features an LED backlight.
As you can expect, it has a lot to offer in terms of functions. It is equipped with calibration signals, a digital compass, an altimeter, a thermometer, and a barometer. In addition to this, it offers a world time and full auto-calendar. The triple sensor inside this watch really makes it suitable for the outdoors for which it was built.
The bezel with the compass markings can be positioned to help you keep track of your current and intended bearings.
All in all, this watch is just as tough as it looks and built for harsh and demanding conditions. It is also built to include all kinds of different functions you may need, and more.
- Diameter: 55mm
- Water-resistance: 200m/660 feet
- Movement: Quartz
Seiko SSC081 Adventure-Solar
If you’re looking for something sporty yet traditional, the Seiko SSC081 is a great choice for a compass watch. In many ways, it has a classic watch design that doesn’t stand out too much from the ordinary, but of course, it does have a sporty appearance, and of course, incorporates a compass function.
The watch is presented with a stainless steel case with a diameter of 42mm which has aggressively angled and designed lugs with a sharp design for added sportiness.
The watch is powered by a solar quartz movement, meaning it gets energy from solar and ambient light. This is of course very convenient as it means that you won’t have to replace its batteries.
The watch features a black dial with large markers and hands with luminescence applied to them. At 3 o’clock, it also has a convenient date window integrated on the dial.
Around the outer edge of the dial, it has an angled compass that helps you navigate. In addition to this function, it is also an alarm chronograph that can measure up to 60 minutes in 1/5th second increments as well as split time measurement.
The water resistance of this watch is 100m/330 feet which are also quite good for an outdoor watch.
All in all, this watch is designed with a nice and classic design with a sporty appeal that has a more versatile design that works on more occasions than just for outdoor activities.
- Diameter: 42mm
- Crystal: Hardlex
- Water-resistance: 100m/330 feet
- Movement: quartz
How to find the best compass watch
Just when buying any watch, there are multiple things you want to take into consideration when buying a compass watch. In addition, since compass watches are generally more advanced and complicated than basic time-only timepieces. Below, we take a look at the most important things to consider when buying a compass watch.
1. Digital or analog compass watch?
Compass watches are available both as digital or analog watches. This of course also goes for the compass function.
Analog watches are watches that display the time with traditional watch hands and digital watches display the time on an LCD screen. As mentioned, this also goes for the compass. Meaning, some watches have a standard, for example integrated into the bracelet. The traditional compasses usen eedles and rely on the magnetic fields of the earth for direction.
Digital watches normally incorporate digital compasses. Digital compasses work whenever and wherever you are and are convenient due to the accuracy and reliability they offer
When it comes to a so-called analog ciompass function, it means that you use the regular watch and use the sky or a landmark. This is both inconvenient and not very accurate. In additon, if you don’t have a good reference point, or a landmark, for example, it is very difficult to use them.
Analog or digital is the way of powering a watch, which also affects the compass function. But the benefit that digital watches also offer is that they can have more useful functions than an analog watch can. If you want a watch with ton of functions such as barometer, thermometer, etc, it is probably a good idea to choose a digital watch that offers further functionality. This brings us to the next point – functions.
Naturally, since you are here, the compass function is the most important function. But in addition to this, a lot of watches have additional functions that may come in handy, in particular in demanding environments such as when you are hiking or performing other outdoor adventures.
The most common functions are:
- Altimeter. An altimeter function tells you your current altitude. This is a particularly useful function when you are hiking to make sure you don’t get too high up and lacking oxygen, to mention one way it can benefit you.
- Barometer. The barometer function gives you information about the air pressure, and it is not just a function that you have for fun. In fact, the barometer function can warn you about upcoming bad weather or storms so you can keep yourself safe and prepared. When you are hiking up in the mountains, the weather can quickly change, so it is therefore important to have the proper tools to help you be prepared.
- Thermometer. The thermometer function doesn’t need much introduction.
- Alarms. The alarm function can be useful both for everyday wear as well as when you are outdoors. Most digital watches that have this function also offer multiple alarms with different functionality so you can set reminders or wakeup alarms according to your needs.
- GPS. A GPS function is a convenient feature that gives detailed information about your location with the help of sattelites. This can be xtremely useful when you are in the outdoors and need help navigating.
- Countdown timer. A countdown function is always convenient and practical to have.
- Stopwatch. A watch with a countdown function also often include a stopwatch function.
- Heartrate monitor. More and more watches come with heart rate monitors, and these are useful for many reasons. Most importantly, they can help provide exerscise data and your performance. They can also be important for your health and safety by alarming you if your heart rate drops very low.
- Sunrise and sunset data. In the outdoors, it can be good to know when the sun rises and when it sets so you can plan your adventures accordingly.
3. Good legibility
Since compass watches are often used in harsh and demanding environments, legibility is another important aspect. Whether you have an analog or digital watch, you need to be able to read the time and data quickly. An analog watch should have strong and bright luminescence that glows for a long time and dibital watches should have backlight that lights up the watch and makes it easier to read.
4. Battery Life
The battery life is another important factor you need to take into consideration unless you have a mecahnical watch. In general, the more advanced and complicated the digital functions are, the more often you need to charge it. The good news is that some digital wathces have solar functionality meaning they are powered by ambient and solar light, thus eliminating the need for ever having to replace the battery.
Still, regardless of which watch you choose, make sure you look at the battery life so you now what to expect and whether it is good enough for your needs.
5. Strap and bracelet
Naturally, the type of watch and how you plan to wear it will affect your needs when it comes to the strap. Since compass watches are generally built for the outdoors and demanding environments, it can be appropriate to choose a strap or bracelet that reflects that. In that case, some criterias to consider are:
- It should be water-resistant
- It should be tough and durable
- It should be comfortable
- It should be easy to clean
- It is breathable (bonus for added comfort)
The best bracelets or straps for outdoor watches are rubber/silicone straps, robust cloth fabrics, or metal bracelets. Titanium is quite popular due to its toughness and lightness. Whilst leather is relatively common, keep in mind that leather and water is usually not a good combination.
Brands use either sapphire or mineral glass. Sapphire is much harder and much more scratch-resistant than mineral glass, but it is also more expensive. In general, you’ll find sapphire crystals being used in more expensive and premium compass watches, and mineral glass being used in more affordable alternatives.
Another option is acrylic, which is essentually just a type of plastic. This type of crystal scratches very easily, but the upside is that it is very affordable.
7. Ease of Use
Ideally, you want your watch to be simple and easy to use. But in general, the more functions it has and fadvanced and the more advanced it is, the more complicated it will be to use.
The good news is that since compass watches are normally built for the outdoors, they are often (if theya re digital) built with large buttons and large screens that make them easy to operate and read. There’s no point in functions if you don’t know how to use them properly, so at the very least, make sure you read the instruction’s manual.
8. Reliability and accuracy
In general, you can say that the more qualitative a watch is, the more accurate and reliable it will be. And I’m not just talking about the timekeeping here but also the data from all the potential additional functions, not to mention the compass. This is particularly true if you have a digital compass. This is one of the reasons that you may want to invest in a compass watch with a slightly higher quality and from a well-known brand.
A watch that doensät provide directions accurately via its compass can prove to be downright dangerous
9. Style and design
This is something that you usually think about (consciously or unconsiously) when looking at a watch to buy. Obiously, you want your watch to be stylish and to be something that you enjoy looking at. However, if you buy the watch for the sole purpose of being a tool, the design is not necessaruily as important as opposed to buying a watch for everyday wear. Therefore, think about how you will wear the watch and then think about how important the style and design is.
Different watches have different water-resistance. When it comes to compass watches, my general advice is to opt for a water-resistance of at least 50 meters so you can go swimming with it and so that it can withstand rain and water splashes. You never know when you are going to take a swim in the outdoors, so having a reasonable water-resistance can be appropriate. Ideally, I would say that you want a water-resistance of at least 100m to make sure it is tougher and more robust. In most cases, you don’t need 200m or more since that is dive watch standard, and a compass watch won’t normally be used for diving. But.. it depends on your needs and plans.
11. Durability and quality
The importance of this depends on how you intend to wear your compass watch. If you plan to go outdoors a lot and wear it in harsh conditions, it is wise to look for a tough, durable, and robust timepiece that can withstand harsh conditions as well as shocks and bangs. Tough watches oftan have large and bulky cases, and oftentimes things like resin shoc absorbers to protect them.
Should you have a digital or analog compass watch?
We touched upon this topic briefly earlier, but what we can say is that if you need a bunch of additional functions such as barometer and altimeter, you will need to choose a digital watch to cater to those needs. But in addition to this, an analog watch is more versatile and stylish in design. So if you plan to wear the watch frequently and not just when you are on your outdoor adventures, an analog watch may be more appropriate.
Do you need to calibrate compass watches?
The answer to that question is yes, you need to calibrate your compass watch. By calibrating the compass, you ensure optimum accuracy which is crucial in the outdoors. Calibration is normally done by comparing it with a different compass. For a detailed guide for your watch, I advise you to read the instruction’s manual that comes with your watch. The good news is that most of the time, the compass is already calibrated when leaving the factory so it is ready to go immediately. But in addition to this, you will want to calibrate it regularly to ensure perfect accuracy. It is a wise idea to look at calibrating it each time a new outdoor adventure begins.
How much should you spend on a compass watch?
As you can see in this list, compass watches are available in all kinds of different price ranges, even if we have focused particularly on affordable alternatives in this list.
How much you should spend on any type of watch, compass or not, depends on your budget and how much are are willing to spend on a watch. The more advanced a watch is, the more you can expect to pay for one. For example a watch that only has a time and compass function will, in general, be more afffordable than one with an altimeter, barometer, etc. But it also depends on additional fators like brand and quality. It can be a good idea to define your budget first to make it easier to narrow down the alternatives.
Does the compass function work in the city?
It depends. Most manufacturers advise that you set the compass function in an open area that is far away from things like buildings, metal objects, cars, etc.
The good news is that compass watches do work in the city, but urban elements like buildings may affect how the compass works. So for perfect functionality and accuracy, it is best used outsie of the city or urban areas.