I was reading all of the answers to Are there any situations while backpacking that would require a watch? and surprised at the number of answers that said you need a watch so you would know how long until dark. People have been walking around the world for a very long time, portable time pieces have only been readily available for about hundred years. They do have a longer history but spent much of that time as very high end luxury items.
The compass has a much longer history, it is simpler instrument, with a much lower cost to acquire and maintain.
A watch alone, will not tell you when it going to get dark, nor when the tides will be low, but combined with other information it can help you determine when the forecast event will occur.
If I have a compass, how can I use it to estimate how long until sun set?