What is a Surf Watch?
A long time ago, when you went in the water to surf, the only thing you would need from your watch was to tell the time. As technology has progressed we could use our watches for fitness elements. Surf watches can do all that but also tell us the high and low tides, and analyse our surf session.
This Garmin watch offers renewable energy, giving it power from the sun, ensuring a long battery life.
It offers your up to date surf information as well as stats to let you know how your surf session went.
Most of the best surf watches are capable of giving you up to date surf conditions in real time. They also have features such as wave counters, dawn and sunset times to help you maximise your surfing experience. Some other useful features on modern day surf watches are tracking tools that allow you to see your paddle strokes, your wave count and your time spent on the wave.
This does not make you a nerd if you like looking at things such as this, it can be informative to use this information for goal setting, to keep you motivated when trying to improve your surfing ability.
Knowing the wave conditions before you head out is really helpful as it means that you’re not wasting your time getting up early to catch those quiet waves. Knowing the local surf conditions also helps as it may mean heading to a Cove around the corner that is slightly more sheltered from the wind. Some spots are more suited to a low tide, if you know all of this information before you leave the house, you maximise your enjoyment. Your modern day watch will allow you to do this and act as your personal smart computer.
Best Surf Watches on the Market
NIXON High Tide Surf Watch
If you want to emulate one of the top surfers in the world, John John Florence, then you may wish to have a closer look at the Nixon high tide watch as he is the face of the watch brand. The Nixon high tide watch boasts a high resolution screen that can be customised in the program settings.
One major feature of this watch is that it has 550 pre-programmed global beach locations so you are able to get accurate forecasts based on these areas.
The Watch itself is durable so will live up to a heavy-duty lifestyle. So this is not just a surf watch that you wear in the water, but something that you can live with and keep on, while not having to worry about it being damaged like some other smart watches. My friend has one of these and like to compete in Spartan type events, where he is throwing himself around – there isn’t a scratch on it so far!
This watch is water-resistant up to 150m, so this is a watch that can be used deeper underwater, should you enjoy pastimes such as scuba diving. It has precise sunrise and moon settings which will give accurate readings for tide heights, and future tides. It also comes in a range of different colour options so you are sure to find an option that you like.
Apple Watch Series 7
Due to the fact that Apple have different watches on the market, you might be asking yourself – Which Apple watch is best for surfing? This is the most recent version of Apple’s Smart watch, so if you are looking to stay up to date with the highest spec and tech, then this watch will meet your needs.
There are a couple of different options when choosing this watch. There is the GPS and Cellular model – the good news for us surfers is that both models allow you to track your surf so you don’t need to worry about this in your decision making.
Apple watches are known for their variety of strap and you would do well to opt in for the Solo Loop option as it is strong and durable and dries really quickly. The sport loop is also very strong and comfortable so with these two options you can feel confident that your watch won’t fall off during your surf session.
All Apple watches past the series 3 are waterproof and work fine in the water, but be advised it’s always worth rinsing them after the surf to ensure any metal in the watch last longer as salt water and metal are not a good combo. If you decide on the Apple Watch for your surfing watch of choice, then I would advise you invest in the Dawn Patrol App. It’s really easy to install and has pre-made watch faces. This app allows you to check on swell forecasts, tides and wind data. It also tracks your surf session so that you can see how well you have performed on the waves.
Garmin Instinct Solar Surf Watch
If renewable energy is something that is important to you, then the Garmin Instinct solar powered surf watch is one you may wish to consider.
Harnessing the power from the sun, this watch offers unprecedented battery life as it charges from the sun as you enjoy your surf. Let’s face it, if you’re going to spend your time in the sun surfing, why not take advantage of the fact that your watch is charging – while others may need to take theirs off at some point to recharge. In fact, this watch has various battery methods to maximise the battery life.
The Instinct watch has a very bold and edgy design and definitely stands out on your wrist. I mean this positively as I think it’s got a very cool design which sets it apart from other watches. It is built with military-grade material, therefore you are not going to need to worry about durability, as this watch can stand up against an active lifestyle.
The durability factor is something that is important with this watch. Although we may wish to think we can, we don’t live in the surf and everyone has a life outside of the water. This watch can be part of your everyday life and the fact that it charges itself while you are on the move is really helpful.
In terms of surf technology, this watch allows you to check the tide and weather information. It also helps to provide useful data on the type of surf you had. For example, it can track how far and how fast you went on each wave. It also has the health check data that is useful, such as bloody oxygen saturation and your heart rate. This is all really helpful information to have when tracking your surf and health.
Rip Curl Search GPS 2 Surf Watch
Straight off the bat, this watch is going to give you all the information you need to plan your surf trip. It’s features are that you can gather information on tidal data, the local swell and wind reports for your area.
It uses GPS to track your live surfing session and also enables you to track your paddle. These can then be analysed through downloading the related app. These features also cross over to running, snowboarding and skiing. Which is great if you want more from this watch.
The build quality is very solid and waterproof to 100m. While it might feel slightly clunky, it is because of the GPS quality that is built inside. It’s got a durable strap, so will very secure while on. One thing worth noting is that this watch is not scuff resistant, so bare that in mind in terms of what you want from the watch.
The battery on this watch, like with most things, will be affected by your usage. If you plan on using this watch as a surf report watch only, then you might get 2 to 3 months out of the battery life. However, if you want to wear this watch as a daily accessory, then be advised that it takes 3 hours for a full charge from the USB cable that comes with it.
Nixon Regulus Surf Watch
The Nixon Regulus comes with the added prestige of being custom-built alongside the US Special Forces – so if you want your watch to have military level clearance then look no further.
As you would expect from a military range, this watch is built to last so count on the fact that your watch is going to withstand a battering. You don’t just need this time piece for surfing, you can take it scuba diving to 100m or wear it to rock climb. It’s shock absorbing technology will allow you to scuff it along the rocks and it will still be fully functioning.
It doesn’t have all the features that other surf watches have – but if you’re looking for a watch that you can forget about due to its toughness, then this one is a serious contender.
Who doesn’t love a Casio? One of my favourite brands as a kid and now a real contender for top surf watches. This Casio works in partnership with your phone to help gather all your surfing information.
The brightness of the screen helps with any weather. When compared to other LCD screen watches this one has excellent angles so that you can always see the time. It has the fitness tracking capabilities you might expect; this helps you to monitor your daily activities. This feature is important as you might want your watch to do more than just give surf information.
In terms of surfing, this allows you to know the moon phase and sunrise/sunset times. It also has the tide information to help you plan when best to head out and surf depending on your spot. There are multiple colour options to choose from. With the G-Shock double up, you also get the street cred of having a premium brand watch.
Rip Curl Tide Surf Watch
This watch is slightly smaller than all the other watches on this list, so if you are looking for something compact then it is a great option. It also has some great colour options to make it stand out in the line up, so a great present idea for a keen surfer. I can definitely see some mini groms sporting this watch.
The watch itself has 500 pre-programmed tide locations in a graph display. This is great for getting the most out of your trip to the beach….you can set your watch by it! I know of several surf sports across the UK that work best at certain tide times – if my watch can be used to let me know this information then I can plan my day accordingly.
It’s a durable watch that is designed to go 100m below the water. The watch is backlit so it offers a good time display and has all the standard watch features you would expect, such as alarm, date etc. A good watch option to use as a day to day watch that improves your surfing information.
Nixon Base Tide Pro Watch
This watch is part of the Nixon Tide family, however it is slightly more affordable then the other Nixon High Tide Pro Watch we reviewed higher up this list.
Just like it’s close relative, the base tide pro has pre-programmed tide information for up to 550 beaches across the globe so this will give you inside knowledge on when the best times are to catch those waves. The strap on this watch is made from a soft touch silicone material which I found to be very comfortable and also well ventilated. When the Watch got wet, there were no issues in terms of chafing against my wrist while it dried.
The display on this watch is clear and very functional in terms of the information on display. The screen is reinforced polycarbonate and fully water-resistant down to a depth of 100 m. If you plan on wearing this watch to Scuba dive as well as surf then at least you know it’s not going to give up on you once you reach those deep depths of the ocean. It features some of the standard things such as date, timer and alarm, with a back light for when you’re needing to use it in the dark.
How to look after your surf watch
If you are going to opt for a surf watch, one piece of advice I have always followed is to make sure that you rinse your watch with clean cold water to help get rid of the corrosive saltwater. All of the watches are surf and waterproof tested, so they are built to withstand getting wet, however, to improve longevity, I would recommend that you rinse your watch after each surf, just like you would your wetsuit to increase its lifespan.
Should I buy a Surf Watch?
Investing in a watch that you can use while surfing, to me, seems like a sensible option. We have so much information available to us these days that it makes sense to take advantage of it. The watches within this list are all premium watches so even if you didn’t plan on taking it in the water, you are left with the quality timepiece that will serve you well.
If like me, you do invest into buying a surf watch, you may also enjoy some of the other features such as the fitness trackers. I use mine to track my swimming and running and it definitely has helped me to stay motivated and made me more focused during my training sessions. I am able to see where I was at before hand, and set a target to improve upon for my next training session.
Step counters are always useful to help track your daily activity levels so if weight loss is something you are concerned about these watches will also help you.
The sleep tracking function is another highlight, as it is interesting to see the quality of sleep you had the night before. Recovering from all the physical activity we do in our lives is important, therefore, tracking how we slept during the night will help you until good bedtime routines (Disclaimer – if you have young children who constantly wake you up at night, you will see how little sleep you get compared to your friends!).