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A surf watch might not be the most obvious piece of gear for surfers, but having a great surf watch can be a game changer! You can find out real-time info on your fave surf spot, such as tides, conditions, and water temperature. The best surf watches have a countdown timer, and even let you track your speed and performance.
We at World Surfers think that surf watches are brilliant accessories for surfers. But there are loads of different options to choose from – it can be a little overwhelming! To make it easy for you, we’ll explain what to look for when buying a surfing watch. Here’s our guide on how to choose the best surfing watch, plus our recommendations for the top surf watches!
How to Choose the Best Surf Watches
Not sure what to look out for when buying a surf watch? We’ve summed up the most important factors to check out before splashing your cash!
It goes without saying that a surf watch needs to have a good level of water resistance to make it suitable for the job at hand. Water resistance is measured in meters, and any surf watch should be water resistant to at least 50 meters.
Surf watches can offer a range of features, but a budget option won’t have the same variety of high-end, techy functions such as WiFi/Bluetooth connectivity, real-time surf data, digital tide graph, and moon phases graphs.
If you just need a simple watch to keep track of time, you might not need these advanced features. But if you want to get the most of a surf watch, make sure to double check exactly what the watch can do for you!
Digital Display Vs. Analog Disp?
This is down to your personal preference, although digital watches often have a wider range of functions included. Analog watches may be simpler, more pared back watches, but they generally have excellent waterproofing and a certain charm that appeals to some surfers! Go for whatever you find easiest to read with a quick glance.
You’ll want a watch that can withstand heavy use, plus exposure to the elements including the sun, water, salt, and sand. Look for watches that are hard-wearing and shatterproof (in case you have a hard fall from your board.)
Some watch strap materials such as polyurethane and rubber can be prone to crack with frequent use. You don’t get the same problem with fabric straps, but they can absorb lots of water. If you go for a watch with a fabric strap, you’ll need to let it dry out fully between each use, or it may start to smell damp and even develop mold.
Before buying, it’s a good idea to try on your watch (if you can). Then, you can have a good look at the materials and test if the watch is a good fit for you. Certain materials tend to be more comfortable, such as resin, polyurethane, and silicone.
Size goes hand in hand with comfort, as you don’t want a watch which is either too big or too small for you. If you have thinner wrists, a bulky watch probably won’t work for you.
Some watches are slimmer, but they can be harder to read, while a larger watch can catch on things and get in the way. You need to find what’s right for you when it comes to size.
Do you want a watch just to use when you’re surfing? Or are you looking for a versatile model with a cool design that you can also wear as an everyday watch? There are loads of different surf watches to choose from, but not every model will be suitable to wear to work, too.
Check the battery life on the watch you want to purchase. You’ll find that the models that are packed full of functions generally have a shorter battery life and may only last one day out on the surf. This can be frustrating, especially if you forget to charge it when you get home, and the battery is dead the next day.
On the other hand, some watches have incredibly long battery life. If this is a priority for you, make sure you consider this when choosing your watch.
This category depends on what your budget is – there are simple, affordable watches out there as well as more expensive, high-end watches. It all comes down to how much you’re willing to spend on this gadget. You’ll find a range of prices in our list of the top watches below.
The Best Surf Watches: The Reviews
Here are the top surf watches on the market right now! From durability to water resistance, tide locations to WiFi connectivity, these watches have it all:
Rip Curl Search GPS 2 Watch
- REAL LIFE SURF CONDITIONS: Track the tide and your surf session with the Rip Curl SearchGPS digital surf watch. Record your wave count, top speeds, distance traveled and time out in the ocean or on the mountain. Rechargeable battery. 43mm case diameter
- GPS + ACTIVITY TRACKING: GPS tracking for all of your activities. Track your skiing, surfing, swimming, biking, running, and boarding - anywhere, anytime. Review your stats live and calculate speed, duration, and distance. Water resistant up to 100m
- ALARM, STOPWATCH + TIMER: Waterproof stopwatch watch with quartz movement and all of the features you need to stay safe and have fun out on the water. The display on the Rip Curl digital surf watch includes time, date, timer, and tide tracking
- WATERPROOF + DURABLE: Waterproof tested and water resistant sports watch for durable quality that will withstand waves and weather. Multifunctional watch for indoor sports and outdoor sports. Suitable for swimming and snorkeling, but not for diving
- SYNC + SHARE YOUR SURFS: Connect your GPS watch to the Rip Curl Search App or website to re-live your surf with location maps, image sharing, and graphic charts. Analyze your surf session and track your other sports
The Rip Curl Search GPS 2 is one of the top surf watches on the market right now. You’ll find that it has all the features a surfer could ever need, from moon phases to sunrise and sunset times and built-in WiFi and GPS.
Rip Curl has been around since and it’s a brand that surfers trust. The Search GPS 2 is their most advanced surf watch, and it won’t disappoint. It contains info on more than 1,400 of the hottest surf spots worldwide, and you can access real-time marine weather info with the Surfline data system.
You can even keep track of your sessions, including your speed, performance, and time on the water.
- Packed full of features
- Has data on 1400 beaches
- Cool design
- Can double up as an everyday watch
- Waterproof to 100 m
- A bit bulky
- Some users report difficulty getting it to sync with their phones
- The WiFi connection is very slow
Apple Watch Series 5
- Over 30% larger display and 50% louder speaker
- Electrical and optical heart sensors
- Digital Crown with haptic feedback
- 50% louder speaker; Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Hands down, this is one of the best surf watches on the market today (but it’s also one of the most expensive!). The Apple Watch Series 4 needs no introduction. It’s well-known for being super powerful, with an intuitive interface and all the apps you could ever need.
Powered by a 64-bit dual-core processor, it’s lightning fast, and you can access the latest surf info wherever you are. You can transform this clever gadget into a perfect surf watch by downloading a GPS app and a surf forecast app.
Constructed from stainless steel and waterproof to 50 meters, it is hard-wearing and durable. It even has an electrical heart sensor to help you monitor your health and track your fitness and performance.
- Powerful and fast
- Download all the apps you need
- Cool design
- Shorter battery life – 18 hours
- Very expensive
Nixon Base Tide Pro
- BASE TIDE PRO, BLACK. The toughest in the lineup, the Nixon black 42mm Base Tide Pro is a surf-ready, multi function digital smart watch made with durable construction and ocean-inspired features.
- HAVE SWELL, WILL TRAVEL. Beyond the time, the Base Tide Pro delivers a double overhead dose of durability and functionality with pre-programmed tide information for 550 beaches around the world.
- MORE WAVES. Digital hints, mod colors, and indestructible capabilities, you can find the time, date, and extreme water-resistant capabilities on this futuristic classic both in and out of the water.
- FUELED BY ADVENTURES. We deliver products that meet your needs in various high-intensity work and play environments, whether it’s across the globe or close to home.
- FOR A LIFE WELL LIVED. Through our dedicated teams perspectives, we contribute to a single unified expression: team-designed, custom-built accessories. For a life well-lived.
The Nixon Base Tide Pro looks awesome, with its chunky, black design and clear display. Designed for surfers, it contains info on more than 550 tide locations, as well as sunrise and sunset times.
A simpler model, this watch is for you if you don’t need an app to enjoy surfing. This watch ticks all the boxes: waterproof, durable, easy to read, and comfy to wear. It’s super affordable and available in 9 different colors, including black, white, red, blue, and orange.
- Simple and functional
- Very affordable
- Pick the color you like best
- Contains data on 550 surf spots worldwide
- No app to sync with your phone
- Doesn’t have WiFi or Bluetooth
- UNIT, BLACK. STREET TO SURF. Bridging the gap between sport and street wear. This watch offers digital movement with positive/negative display and is water resistant up to 100 meters
- UTILITY BELT OF WATCHES. All the essentials-time; day, date, alarm, countdown timer, thermometer and LCD display in a 44mm case, with a silicone band and locking loopers & buckle for secure comfort
- GREATER THAN THE SUMS OF ITS PARTS. Packing a lot into a little, the Unit is a heavy hitter. The founding father of the Nixon Unit family, it’s a utility belt of preparedness
- FUELED BY ADVENTURES. We deliver products that meet your needs in various high-stress work and play environments, whether it’s across the globe or down the street
- FOR A LIFE WELL LIVED. Through our dedicated teams perspectives, we contribute to a single unified expression: team-designed, custom-built accessories
The Nixon Unit is the perfect surf watch for anyone shopping on a budget. It holds tide data on more than 200 beaches and has a graph function that shows you real-time tide info for the next 48 hours. You can check the conditions before you head to the beach, saving you a wasted trip just to find out it’s a rubbish day for surfing.
The strap material is flexible silicone, and the case has been reinforced to make this tide watch strong and durable. You can wear this stylish black watch anywhere – it’s suitable for water sports, work, and travel.
- A great budget surf watch
- The silicone strap is comfy and flexible
- Hardwearing, super-strong construction
- Shock resistant
- Not as many features as high-end models
- The chunky design may be too bulky for some people
Casio G-Shock Frogman GF1000
- Tough Solar Power, Shock Resistant, ISO 200M Water Resistant, Full Auto EL Backlight with Afterglow
- World Time, Moon Data (moon age of the specific data, moon phase graph), Tide Graph (tide level for specific date and time)
- Dive time and surface interval measurement function, 1/100 second stopwatch, Countdown timer
- 4 Daily alarms and 1 Snooze Alarm, Hourly time signal, Battery power indicator, Power saving function, Button Operation Tone on/off
- Full auto-calendar (pre-programmed until the year 2099), 12/24 hour formats, Accuracy: +/-15 seconds per month, Storage battery: Solar rechargeable battery, Approx. battery life: 10 months on full charge (without further exposure to light), Module: 3266, Size of case / total weight: 52.0 x 50.3 x 18.0mm / 112g
The Casio G-Shock Frogman is one of the best surfing accessories, with a waterproof rating of 200 meters. If you’re looking a watch – Casio for surfing, you won’t go wrong with this model.
It’s a super smart watch, almost like a tiny computer you can carry around with on your wrist. Not only can you use this gadget to measure the water temperatures and barometric pressure, but it also has extensive data on moon phases. The detailed tide graphs will be sure to wow you with their precision and intricacy.
This watch has been built to last. You can treat this watch as harshly as you like – it can stand up to heavy use and plenty of exposure from the elements. Constructed from stainless steel and shatterproof glass, it should last years.
- Very durable
- Great range of features
- Waterproof to 200 meters
- Quite heavy
- Expensive – not for you if you’re on a budget
Best Surf Watches FAQ
What is a surf watch?
Surf watches are handy little accessories that tell the time but also measure the tide and waves. Surf watches also often hold data on surf locations all around the world, plus the sunset and sunrise timings and more. If you’re a frequent surfer, buying a surf watch can take your hobby to the next level.
Can you surf with Apple Watch?
Yes, you can surf with Apple Watch! The latest Apple Watch Series 4 has a water resistance rating of up to 50m, making it suitable for surfing. With the wide range of features, the Apple Watch makes an ideal surf watch.
What is the best waterproof watch?
The Casio G-Shock Frogman GF1000 is one of the best waterproof watches for men, as it’s water resistant to 200m. It’s hard to beat this level of waterproofing, and the Frogman GF1000 can stand up to anything you throw at it: surfing, a swim, shower, or even deep-sea diving.
The Wrap Up
So there you have the best tide watches for surfers around. Technology has advanced, allowing the best surf watches to contain detailed data on hundreds of surf locations around the globe. Many tide watches even have WiFi connectivity, allowing you to access realtime info such as tides, wave height, and water temperature.
If you want to take your surfing hobby to the next level, track your performance, and have the latest info at the click of a button, it’s time to buy a surf watch! You’ll be sure to find the right surf watch for your needs and budget from our recommendations above.
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