One of the possible uses of sundials is to help navigation on land. The armies of several countries as well as various scientific expeditions have used instruments derived from the sundial for navigation in desert regions.

The Vikings
The sun compass could have been used by the Vikings.
click to know more.

Antoine Parent
In 1701, the mathematician, Antoine Parent, described in a paper addressed to the Academy of Sciences the possibility of constructing a universal instrument for measuring time based on the analemmatic sundial. In practice, it only partially deserved the title “universal“ since its use in northern latitudes was rendered impossible on account of its cumbersome dimensions. This dial had every chance of being forgotten, precisely because of its universal nature. Only a limitation of its latitude range made it re-appear.

In 1920, we find the same type of dial, described in a USGS (United States Geologic Survey) bulletin. This device, Baldwin's sun graph, was used for direction finding. It was also a multi-latitude analemmatic dial (covering latitudes from 30 degrees to 70 degrees) but which differed from Parent's in that the latitude ellipses all have the same major axis. In order to position the gnomon correctly for a given date and latitude, it is necessary to use a special graph built into the dial plate. It seems that Parent's dial is easier to use and it is doubtless for this reason that twenty years later someone decided to use this somewhat forgotten man's dial.

Sun compasses used during WWII.
Abrams sun compass
Sun Compass was used as a navigation aid by the American Army in the North African desert.
click to know more.
Cole sun compass
This sun compass also was used in the North African desert.
click to know more.
Bagnold sun compass
A sun compass used by British army in north Africa.
click to know more.
Astro compass
The astro compass was a navigation instrument used in bombers.
click to know more.

The sun compass always in used during nineties
Howard sun compass
During nineties, the sun compass was always used by British army.
click to know more.
Rolex advertisement in 1994
click to know more.