SUMMARY TABLE

Name

Image

Price

Rating

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APPLE
Watch Series 5
OUR TOP PICK

Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS, 40mm) - Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band

4.8  /5

CASIO
Anti-Magnetic G-Shock
BEST VALUE

Casio Men's G100-1BV G-Shock Classic Ana-Digi Watch

4.6  /5

FREESTYLE USA
Shark Surf Watch

Freestyle women's FS84861 Shark Clip Classic Retro Digital Watch Watch with Nylon Band

4.5  /5

NIXON
Regulus

NIXON Regulus A1180 - All Gunmetal - 100m Water Resistant Men's Digital Sport Watch (46mm Watch Face, 29mm-24mm Pu/Rubber/Silicone Band)

4.5  /5

OUR TOP PICK

Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS, 40mm) - Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band

Overall Rating

4.8 /5

Design

4.8

Functionality

4.7

Ease of Use

4.8

Durability

4.6

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General Impression

The launch of the Apple watch made waves around the world for its feature-packed design. But you might be surprised to know that it’s actually one of the best surf watches on the market. Not only does it have a robust, waterproof design and all the call/text abilities you’d expect of an Apple device, it can also provide a platform for using Surf tracking apps, such as Dawn Patrol and Surfline Sessions. If you’re into other sports, such as snowboarding or cycling, there are also apps designed specifically for these pursuits. It’s a particularly good option for those who work “on-call” and can still be contactable when they’re out in the surf. All in all, one of the best tide watches for surfers, albeit with a relatively high price tag.

Specifications

BRAND: APPLE
SEX: Unisex
CASE: 40mm aluminum case
DURABILITY: Anti-magnetic, shock resistant
WATER RESISTANT DEPTH: Up to 164ft (50m)
KEY FUNCTIONS: GPS tracker, multiple apps, receive calls/texts

PROS

  • Surf tracking apps (Dawn Patrol and Surfline Sessions)
  • Receive texts and calls in the water
  • Can use a variety of other apps
  • Changeable bands
  • Stream your favorite songs

CONS

  • Expensive compared to other surfing watches
  • Only one style that may not appeal to all
BEST VALUE

Casio Men's G100-1BV G-Shock Classic Ana-Digi Watch

Overall Rating

4.6 /5

Design

4.5

Functionality

4.7

Ease of Use

4.6

Durability

4.7

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General Impression

With an EL backlight for easy visibility in and out of the water, this functional watch from Casio is more of a dive watch, but equally useful for surfers. It’s durably designed, with shock resistance and anti-magnetic capabilities while being water-resistant up to 660 feet (200 meters). There’s a 1/100-second stopwatch, daily alarm and an auto-calendar, all in a rugged matte-black finish. Add to that a battery that will last for three years and it’s understandable why this is one of the best surf watches on the market. If you’re looking for cheap surf watches, then you really can’t look past the G-Shock.

Specifications

BRAND: CASIO
SEX: Male
CASE: 53mm resin case
DURABILITY: Anti-magnetic, shock resistant
WATER RESISTANT DEPTH: Up to 660ft (200m)
KEY FUNCTIONS: Multi-function alarm, auto calendar, EL backlight

PROS

  • Durably designed
  • Water-resistant up to 660 feet (220 meters)
  • In-built alarm and stopwatch
  • EL backlit face
  • Shock resistant
  • Anti-magnetic

CONS

  • No tide tracker
  • Not a sleek design

Freestyle women's FS84861 Shark Clip Classic Retro Digital Watch Watch with Nylon Band

Overall Rating

4.5 /5

Design

4.7

Functionality

4.4

Ease of Use

4.6

Durability

4.5

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General Impression

This brightly colored, vintage-style surf watch is sure to stand out, despite its relatively small size. It features 330-foot (100-meter) water-resistance that makes it ideal for water sports, although it may not hold up to the conditions experienced when scuba diving. Aside from its Japanese quartz movement and digital display, the watch also features hydro-pushers and a nylon band. You don’t have to worry about durability, with a shock-resistant plastic case that will endure the rough conditions of the surf. All in all, one of the best cheap surf watches you can buy in 2020.

Specifications

BRAND: FREESTYLE
SEX: Unisex
CASE: 33mm plastic case
DURABILITY: Shock resistant
WATER RESISTANT DEPTH: Up to 330ft (100m)
KEY FUNCTIONS: Heat time, night-vision backlight, 24 city world time function, two alarms

PROS

  • Displays times in 24 global cities
  • Heat timer
  • Night-vision backlight
  • Fun and colorful unisex design
  • Easy to use

CONS

  • No tide tracker
  • Not ideal for scuba diving

NIXON Base Tide A1104 - All Black - 100m Water Resistant Men's Digital Surf Watch (38 mm Watch Face, 22 mm Pu/Rubber/Silicone Band)

Overall Rating

4.4 /5

Design

4.6

Functionality

4.4

Ease of Use

4.4

Durability

4.5

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General Impression

While the design of this tide watch is unmistakably retro, the technology is all 21st century. In addition to time, date, and chronograph timer capabilities, this surf watch can also be programmed to display current and future tides. One of the only drawbacks is that the new and full moon tides aren’t accurately reflected. It features a simplified LCD that makes it easy to view out in the ocean and molded polycarbonate gasketed pushers that are rugged and long-lasting. Aside from all black, this Nixon surfing watch is available in a variety of colors to suit your style. A stand out amongst cheap surf watches currently on the market.

Specifications

BRAND: NIXON
SEX: Male
CASE: 38mm stainless steel case
DURABILITY: Ruggedly designed with stainless steel and silicone
WATER RESISTANT DEPTH: Up to 330ft (100m)
KEY FUNCTIONS: Tide tracker, alarm, chronograph timer

PROS

  • Displays current and future tide times
  • Water resistance up to 330 feet (100 meters)
  • Rugged polycarbonate gasketed pushers
  • Retro design
  • Back-lit for low-light viewing

CONS

  • Doesn’t accurately reflect new and full moon tides
  • Tide function needs to be reset regularly to maintain accuracy

Nixon Women's The Siren 38mm Watch, Pale Pink, One Size

Overall Rating

4.3 /5

Design

4.4

Functionality

4.3

Ease of Use

4.5

Durability

4.2

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General Impression

Inspired by the surf but still very “street”, this Nixon watch for women features basic tide functions so you’re constantly connected to the ocean. It’s water-resistant up to 330 feet (100 meters), with stainless steel and waterproof gasketed pushers that are designed to last. The ultra-soft silicone band is tapered for a stylish look while the dial features a backlight so you can view it in low-light conditions. With an affordable price tag, this is one of the best tide watches for surfing that can still be worn as an everyday accessory when you are out and about.

Specifications

BRAND: NIXON
SEX: Female
CASE: 38mm stainless steel case
DURABILITY: Stainless steel case and silicone strap
WATER RESISTANT DEPTH: Up to 330ft (100m)
KEY FUNCTIONS: Chronograph, countdown timer, tide tracker

PROS

  • Small face designed for women
  • Basic tide functions
  • Various colors available
  • Countdown timer

CONS

  • No surf tracking features
  • Not ruggedly designed

NIXON Regulus A1180 - All Gunmetal - 100m Water Resistant Men's Digital Sport Watch (46mm Watch Face, 29mm-24mm Pu/Rubber/Silicone Band)

Overall Rating

4.5 /5

Design

4.5

Functionality

4.4

Ease of Use

4.5

Durability

4.7

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General Impression

Created in collaboration with agents from the Special Operations corps of the United States, this high-tech digital surf watch is ultra-durable and can withstand even the most extreme conditions. It’s water-resistant up to 330 feet (100 meters) and boasts dual chronographs, not to mention a large LED-backlit display for ease of viewing. The design is simple but constructed using shock-absorbent materials, with a five-year battery life. It doesn’t offer any specific tide or surf-tracking features but is a good buy for surfers wanting a highly durable watch they can wear in the water or suitable for most extreme environments.

Specifications

BRAND: NIXON
SEX: Male
CASE: 46mm resin case
DURABILITY: Shock absorbent
WATER RESISTANT DEPTH: Up to 330ft (100m)
KEY FUNCTIONS: Backlit display, dual chronographs

PROS

  • Adjustable LED brightness
  • Water-resistant up to 330 feet (100 meters)
  • Shock-absorbent materials
  • Five-year battery life

CONS

  • No specific tide or surf-tracking features
  • Dark display

Rip Curl Mens Rifles Tide Watch, Midnight/One Size Fits All

Overall Rating

4.3 /5

Design

4.5

Functionality

4.3

Ease of Use

4.4

Durability

4.3

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General Impression

Designed by one of the world’s top surfing watch brands, this Rip Curl watch has a pre-programmed tide function that electronically stores tide charts for 500 locations around the world. You can switch between a graph and a detailed view while viewing the height of the tide and see whether it’s coming in or going out. While this might sound complicated to get your head around, the intuitive menu-based interface makes it easy to navigate the watch features. It’s water-resistant up to 330 feet (100 meters) and comes with a durable, polyurethane strap, making it one of the best tide watches for surfers available.

Specifications

BRAND: RIP CURL
SEX: Male
CASE: 41mm resin case
DURABILITY: Polyurethane strap
WATER RESISTANT DEPTH: Up to 330ft (100m)
KEY FUNCTIONS: Tide tracker, wave height

PROS

  • Tide-tracker

  • Wave height

  • Durable yet sleek design

  • Menu-based interface

  • 500 pre-programmed surf spots

CONS

  • Dark face

  • Cannot adjust pre-programmed surf spots

Rip Curl Maui Mini Tide Digital Women's Watch Mint A1126G-min

Overall Rating

4.3 /5

Design

4.5

Functionality

4.4

Ease of Use

4.3

Durability

4.2

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General Impression

With its scaled-down size, this compact women’s surf watch comes with 500 pre-programmed tide locations across the globe. They can be observed in a graph that clearly illustrates the spring and neap tides or in the “detailed view”, with current tide height and direction. In addition, it’s equipped with the date, a calendar, and alarm, as well as a stopwatch and a countdown timer. Despite its tiny size, it’s still durably designed with a lightweight injected molded polycarbonate ABS case and a marine-grade stainless steel forged buckle. Arguably one of the best tide watches for surfers wanting a feminine design.

Specifications

BRAND: RIP CURL
SEX: Female
CASE: 35mm polycarbonate case
DURABILITY: Durable injected molded polycarbonate ABS case
WATER RESISTANT DEPTH: Up to 330ft (100m)
KEY FUNCTIONS: Multi-function alarm, auto calendar, tide tracker 

PROS

  • Made with durable materials

  • 500 pre-programmed global tide locations

  • Stopwatch and countdown timer

  • Stylish design

CONS

  • Cannot adjust pre-programmed surf spots

  • Tides don’t reflect moon phases

Casio G-Shock Digital Dial Resin Quartz Men's Watch [GWF-1000-1jf] (Japan Import-No Warranty)

Overall Rating

4.5 /5

Design

4.5

Functionality

4.6

Ease of Use

4.4

Durability

4.8

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General Impression

It might be expensive compared to other digital surf watches, but the Frogman in Casio’s G-Shock series comes with a whole host of features that make it worth the splurge. It’s solar-powered, shock resistant and water-resistant up to 660 feet (200 meters), as well as featuring an EL backlight so you can read it in all conditions. Aside from checking the time, you can use it to observe the tides and moon phases to figure out the best time to surf or measure your surface intervals when scuba diving. The only downside (aside from the price) is the bulkiness of the design. Still, it’s definitely one of the best waterproof watches for surfing if you want something that’s built to last.

Specifications

BRAND: CASIO
SEX: Male
CASE: 52mm resin case
DURABILITY: Shock resistant
WATER RESISTANT DEPTH: Up to 660ft (200m)
KEY FUNCTIONS: Tide tracker, moon phase, EL backlight, daily alarms, auto-calendar

PROS

  • 10-month solar battery charge

  • Tide tracker

  • Shock resistant

  • Water-resistant up to 660 feet (200 meters)

  • Altitude/barometric pressure readings

  • Moon phase readings

CONS

  • Expensive compared to other surf watches
  • Big and bulky design

Rip Curl Analog-Quartz Watch with Rubber Strap, Green, 43 (Model: A1144MIL1SZ)

Overall Rating

4.4 /5

Design

4.6

Functionality

4.5

Ease of Use

4.3

Durability

4.2

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General Impression

Harnessing GPS and motion technology, this waterproof surfing watch allows you to track a variety of stats during your session, including your wave count, top speeds, distance traveled and time out in the water. It’s fitted with a rechargeable battery and is water-resistant up to 330 feet (100 meters). Aside from a stopwatch, alarm and tide tracker, it’s also durably designed to withstand the rough and tumble of a variety of water sports. Once your session is over, you can connect the GPS watch to the Rip Curl Search App to analyze your performance and paddling tracks. Definitely one of the best men’s surf watches if your budget isn’t limited.

Specifications

BRAND: RIP CURL
SEX: Male
CASE: 45mm resin case
DURABILITY: Durably designed
WATER RESISTANT DEPTH: Up to 330ft (100m)
KEY FUNCTIONS: Alarm, tide tracker, stopwatch

PROS

  • Easy to set up

  • Track your surf session

  • Tide tracker

  • In-built alarm and stopwatch

  • Analyze your performance in the water

CONS

  • The battery doesn’t always last an entire surf session

  • Sometimes doesn’t track small or slow waves

Gone are the days when a watch’s sole purpose was to tell the time, with modern devices boasting a whole range of functionality. For surfers, a watch is not only a means of determining how long you’ve been in the water but can also be used to track tides, monitor your performance and analyze your session afterward.

You need something that’s water-resistant and won’t corrode on exposure to saltwater, as well as being durable enough to withstand the rough conditions of the ocean. Add to that, you probably want a device with a little bit of style that can be worn in a variety of other situations.

In this guide, we’ll introduce some of the features to consider when purchasing the best tide watches for surfing so you can make an informed decision.

Size

Size is a highly personal thing when it comes to watches. Some people prefer a large dial that they can easily read while others want something less bulky that doesn’t completely dominate their wrist. Most women’s surf watches are smaller to suit thinner wrists but you can also find men’s surf watches that are relatively compact. More important than size when determining the best surfer watch is that it feels comfortable to wear and can be secured on top of (or slipped just beneath) your wetsuit sleeve.

Digital or Analog

Surfer watches are available in both analog and digital designs. But it’s the latter that has become more prevalent in watches that tell tides because of their functionality. A digital display allows you to easily switch between tide graphs, your stopwatch, and any other in-built features, aside from just telling the time. That being said, analog watches tend to be sealed tighter and are good if you’re taking your watch down to considerable depths.

Materials

The most important factor when it comes to surf watch materials is selecting those that are water-resistant and won’t deteriorate due to repeated exposure. Some watches aren’t designed to be in the water, with condensation quickly forming inside the case and signs of cracking visible on the straps over time. Plastic, polyurethane and stainless steel are fast becoming the most common materials for surf watch straps as they won’t take on water and offer good flexibility. You can also find watches with leather bands that have been coated to make them water-resistant but they tend to break down over time. The best waterproof surf watch will be a combination of high-quality materials, durable construction and well thought out features.

Comfort

One of the most important factors to consider when purchasing the best surf watch is how comfortable it is, as there’s nothing worse than a chaffing strap or a watch that constantly moves around on your wrist. If you’re buying online, simply measure the circumference of your wrist and check that the strap will fit securely, without having to DIY additional holes. It’s also a good idea to read surf watches reviews to see what other users have to say about the watch’s comfortability before you make your decision.

Water resistance

No watch is 100% waterproof but most can claim a level of water resistance. This is tested by taking the watch to different depths and pressures to determine where its “breaking point” is. A watch that’s water-resistant to 330 feet (100 meters) is usually adequate for most surfers. But if you plan on doing any diving or other high impact water sports, then you might want to consider a watch that’s rated to 660 feet (200 meters).

Features

The release of the Apple watch has set a new bar when it comes to the best waterproof surf watch features, with everything from heart rate monitors to surf tracking apps now available. Some surfers are looking for a watch that allows them to analyze their surf session and monitor the moon phases while others just want a device that tells the time and helps them to track the tides. Not all features are as useful as others, so it’s worth doing your own research by reading the best tide watch review to see what others have to say.

Style

A watch design that appeals to one surfer might not appeal to another, which reflects the individualism of personal style. You can find surf watches that are all black and largely functional, as well as multi-colored designs that are sure to stand out. Some surf watch brands have also started making designs targeting women, usually in a more compact size. They come with all the same features of their male counterpart watches, often with trimmings in rose gold or more feminine color options. When browsing surf watches online, you’ll see that some models are only available in a single color option while others can be purchased in a multitude of colors to suit your style.

1. What are the best-known surfer watch brands?

When you’re browsing surf watches online, you’ll see a number of brand names popping up again and again. Rip Curl has garnered a reputation for producing some of the best men’s surf watches (as well as some for women), with a wide variety of designs available. These watches are built specifically for surfers, allowing you to track the tides, monitor your paddling performance and even connect with apps at the end of your session to analyze it.

Casio and Nixon also craft durable watches that meet the needs of surfers while being ruggedly designed for other adventurous pursuits as well. Most of their watches are equipped with tide trackers but few of the other surfing “bells and whistles” that you’ll get with a Rip Curl device. While Apple watches aren’t specifically designed for surfing, they can be used to connect with apps such as Dawn Patrol (which is packed with surf-monitoring features) and allow you to take calls while you’re out in the water. As a result, their devices are among the best tide watches for surfing currently available.

2. What is considered the best tide watch for surfing?

The best tide watches for surfers are those that accurately indicate the tides so that you can make an informed decision about when’s the best time to head to your spot. While some watches offer tide tracking features, they’re not always accurate or don’t reflect the changes that take place around the new and full moon. Rip Curl is among the best surf watch brands when it comes to tide tracking features, with many of their watches pre-programmed with 500 spots around the globe. If you’re looking for the best tide watches, it’s a good idea to check the reviews to read what other users have to say about their accuracy.

3. What is the best cheap surf watch?

The best men’s surf watches at the cheaper end of the range are the Casio G-Shock Classic and the Freestyle USA Shark Surf Watch. Both are water-resistant and fairly durable, offering a solid device for checking the time while you’re out in the water. But if you’re specifically looking for a tide tracker, you’ll need to pay a little more for the Nixon Base Tide, which is one of the best waterproof surf watch designs for those on a budget.

4. How do I clean my surf watch?

The best watches for surfers will be able to withstand a lot of exposure to saltwater, without corrosion occurring. But all watches will start to accumulate gunk and grime over time, particularly if you’re wearing sunscreen while out surfing.

It’s important to rinse your watch after each surf session to remove any saltwater that might corrode the materials. A little bit of fresh water and a soft cloth are all that is needed if you want to give your watch a more thorough clean before drying it with a dry cloth. You can find specialized watch cleaning products online but a bit of soap will usually do the job if you prefer to use something other than just water.

5. What is the difference between a water-resistant watch and a waterproof watch?

While some watches will claim that they are “waterproof”, this is rarely the case as all will have a point at which they fail due to the pressure of being at depth underwater. “Water resistance” is a more accurate description and details the depth at which a watch can be taken before there are no guarantees against it failing or breaking.
The higher the water-resistance a watch has, the greater its ability to withstand a very high level of pressure as you descend beneath the water’s surface. That being said, the best tide watches for surfers might only be water-resistant to 330 feet (100 meters) as it’s highly unlikely you’ll be going to greater depths during your session.

6. Do the buttons work underwater on a surf watch?

If a watch is water-resistant to a certain depth, then its buttons should work effectively down to that depth. This is particularly important if you’re using your watch while diving and need to switch between various displays to monitor your depth or time your surface interval.

When surfing, it’s more likely that you’ll be using the buttons while at the water’s surface. The best surf watches will be designed with buttons that can be used when exposed to water so that you can take advantage of the device’s full functionality.

best surf watch brands

As always, we create our content with you, fellow divers, in mind. So, how’d we do? Did you find this informative? Did it help you make a decision? Did we miss anything? We’d love to hear from you below. Thanks for reading and we hope your next dive is a great one!

Tom Burrell

Tom is a product expert, a degreed career Conservation Officer, and an avid outdoorsman originally from Northeast Pennsylvania. Tom has spent 23 years as a Conservation Officer, during which time he has fished throughout the Americas. He has targeted some of the most prized fresh and saltwater species using a variety of techniques. His key interests include boating, reading, anything outdoors and spending time with his family. Tom takes unique pride in sharing his love for the outdoors with his young son and teaching him the subtleties of nature.

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