Best surf watches

11 Best Surf Watches of All Time

While it’s pretty amazing to paddle-out and completely disconnect from the outside world, with no tethers to time or responsibilities- that’s not always realistic. 

Maybe you only have an hour to surf before work, and need a simple, waterproof timepiece to alert you when to paddle in. 

Maybe you need to be reachable while you’re in the water. 

Maybe you love the idea of being able to check the tide by simply glancing at your wrist. 

Or, you don’t need to check the time, but want to keep track of every wave you catch, max speeds reached, and paddling distance. 

Surf watch technology has gotten pretty amazing over recent years, and there are some seriously awesome watches out there. 

Whether you’re looking for the most high-tech surf watch available, or something to get you out of the water and on time to work, this guide covers the 11 best surf watches on the market! 

In a hurry? Here are the 11 best watches for surfers:


1. Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Surf Edition – Overall best surf watch

2. RipCurl Search GPS 2– Best professional surf watch

3. Nixon Base Tide Pro– Most eco-friendly tide watch

4. Casio G-Shock GBX 100NS– The toughest surf watch on the market

5.  Apple Watch Series 7– The best smartwatch for surfing

6. Shark Classic Clip – Best retro surf watch

7. Nixon Rival Women’s surf watch– Best eco-friendly women’s surfing watch

8. Nixon Siren– Most fashionable surf watch for women

9. Armitron Sport Watch– Best simple surf watch for women

10. Casio W800H-1AV– Best simple surf watch for men

11. Rip Curl Rifles Tide Watch


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How to choose the best surf watch:

Is it durable and water resistant?

While it almost goes without saying, the #1 most important feature in a surf watch is that it’s extremely durable and water resistant. A surf watch can have all the sweet features in the world, but if it’s going to break while you’re using it for its intended purpose…. Not worth it. 

Also- in the surf watch world, there is technically no such thing as “waterproof”. Everything is “rated water resistant up to xxx feet”.

What features does it have?

The next most important element to consider while picking your surf watch is considering exactly what features you want the watch to have. For some, the perfect surf watch simply… tells the time. 

However, some of us are looking for something a little more high-tech. Here are some of the sweet features that are covered across the different surfing watches on this list:

  • Tracking the tides
  • Sunrise/sunset times
  • Cellular service
  • Surfing apps
  • Ability to track the stats & movements of your surf sessions

Is it comfortable?

Whether you’re used to surfing in a wetsuit or just trunkin’ it, you’re used to surfing in a wetsuit, you still want a surf watch that’s going to be comfortable to wear while you do the sport you love. 

While comfort might not be the first thing you consider while shopping for the best tide watch, it will be something on your mind during your sessions if your watch is uncomfortable.

Do you like the style?

If you could care less about the way your watch looks, feel free to skip this section. However, for many surfers, myself included, the way a surf watch looks is going to be a relatively deciding factor on if they buy it or not! 

Some of the best surf watches have a pretty simple display. Some of them have that shiny smartwatch look, and others have their own unique, retro style like the Shark Watches. 

It’s not a bad idea to consider what look you want to be sporting on your wrist while browsing the best tide watches. 

Size

Size is another important feature to consider while choosing from the best surf watches. All of these watches vary in size, and while a tiny surf watch might be perfect for surfers with younger eyes and smaller wrists (groms, I’m looking at you!), some surfers might need something with a bigger interface that you can actually read and understand while you’re out in the surf! 

Battery life

Battery life is one of the most important features of a surf watch! Some of us are meticulously organized, and have no issue taking care to plug our watch in to charge after each session. 

If you fall into that category, that’s awesome! But not all of us are that organized, and might do better with one of the surf watches on this list with a super strong battery, or one that has solar charging capabilities.

11 best surf watches of all time

best surf watches

1. Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Surf Edition – Overall best surf watch

  • Price: $$$$
  • Availability: Check Here

The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Surf Edition is one of the most high-tech watches for surfing, kitesurfing, and windsurfing. 

This surf watch doesn’t just track the tides, but it also tracks sunrise /sunset times, and all of your surf activity. Including all the waves you caught, and how fast and how far you rode them.

One of the coolest features of this surf watch is the Surfline Sessions feature. Essentially, Garmin teamed up with Surfline and now every time you surf in front of a Surfline camera with this watch, it creates a video of you. No more endless rewinding, or waving like a maniac in front of the camera so you can find your best wave on the rewind. 

This watch isn’t just great for surfing, too- it has 24/7 health monitoring, and the watch even has a safety feature that sends alerts to your emergency contact if you take a bad fall (when it’s paired with your smartphone). Another unique feature of this surf watch is that it solar charges itself! 

Key features:

  • Tracks your surf activity
  • Tracks tides + sunrise/sunset times
  • Takes a video of you surfing while in front of the Surfline camera
  • 24/7 health monitoring
  • Solar charging capabilities

Downsides:

  • You have to download the tides, they’re not automatically stored on the watch. And you can only download tides for 5 different beaches, and the data is only good for 3 days.
  • It’s very pricey for not technically being a smartwatch

2. RipCurl Search GPS 2– Best professional surf watch

  • Price: $$$
  • Availability: Check Here

The Rip Curl Search GPS 2 is the perfect watch for surfers who love tracking their surf sessions. This watch logs every wave you surf, your session duration, max speed, and even how far you paddle!

Like the Garmin Instinct, the Search is also compatible with Surfline Sessions, so you can watch your waves if you’re in front of a Surfline camera! 

The display of this watch is really nice, and the tide chart is particularly great. You can also sync the watch with realtime swell and wind reports.

As far as battery life goes, this one is pretty good. It takes about 3 hours to fully charge, and the charge will last you about 7 hours of surfing. 

If you’re looking for a high-performance surf watch with an easy-to-read display, and excellent GPS tracking features, the Rip Curl Search GPS 2 is a pretty good option.

Key Features:

  • GPS features track wave count, paddle time, max speed
  • Tidal chart
  • Real-time surf and wind conditions
  • Compatible with Surfline Sessions

Downsides:

  • NOT compatible with Android
  • Scratches easily

3. Nixon Base Tide Pro– Most eco-friendly tide watch

If you’re looking for a durable, high-quality tide watch, The Nixon Base Tide Pro might be for you. Rated water resistant to 100 meters and built with a fiber reinforced polycarbonate case, you’re going to be hard pressed to find a surf watch more durable than this one. 

The main features of the watch include sunrise/sunset times, date & time display, and pre-programmed tide information for 550 surf beaches around the world. If your local beach isn’t near one of the pre-programmed ones, don’t worry, because you can still add it in manually. 

The Base Tide Pro is also equipped with a 42mm digital EL backlight, and large buttons that make it easy to ready the watch face, and toggle between the tide chart and the date/time faces for everyday use. 

One of my favorite features of this watch is the fact that it’s made from recycled ocean plastics! 

If you’re looking for a surf watch with a large screen that’s easy to read- this is it. This watch is definitely on the big side.

Key Features:

  • Tide watch with 550 pre-programmed beaches
  • Large display
  • Made from recycled ocean plastics
  • Very durable

Downsides:

  • A little clunky

4. Casio G-Shock GBX 100NS– The toughest surf watch on the market

Looking for a surf watch that can handle not just everyday wear, but also the most intense wipeouts? Check out the G-Shock GBX 100NS. This watch is completely shock-resistant, and equipped with 360 degree impact protection. 

The watch has a bluetooth connection for smartphones, and pairs with the G-Shock Move App. 

From your smartphone, you can display tide data, moon data, and sunrise/sunset data on the watch from 3300 surf spots around the world. 

The MIP display is very easy to read, both in the dark and direct sunlight. The GBX 100NS is also available in some pretty great colors, all inspired by night surfing. 

Key Features:

  • Bluetooth connection can retrieve tide data from 3300 surf spots around the world
  • MIP display
  • Shock resistant
  • Easy to read MIP display
  • Includes stopwatch, alarm, and world clocks

Downsides:

  • Some users have reported the tide data isn’t 100% accurate

5. Apple Watch Series 7– The best smartwatch for surfing

If you’re looking for a smartwatch that you can surf with, the Apple Watch Series 7 is about as good as it gets. The Series 7 is way stronger than previous models, with double the crystal on the screen.

The GPS features on the Apple Watch are amazing. If you are using the app Dawn Patrol, you can keep track of waves caught, your max speeds, paddling distance, session duration, and how long each of your rides are. 

The Series 7 also pairs with the health app and measures your heart rate and calories burned while surfing. 

The display is one of the best features of the Apple Watch for surfing- it’s amazingly easy to read, and with the Dawn Patrol app you can set it to display not only the tides, time, and date of your local beach, but also the swell height and period.

If you add cell service connection to your watch, you can also receive texts, calls, and notifications while you’re out in the lineup. While a lot of surfers would prefer to go without those disruptions from the serenity of the water, for others, being able to stay connected is a necessity. Whether you’re on-call, a parent, or whatever the reason- sometimes people need to reach you- even when you’re surfing. And the Apple Watch makes that a reality. 

However- if you buy an Apple Watch in the US, the cellular features ONLY WORK in Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the US. But the GPS features will still work anywhere.

Overall: If you want a smart watch, and you’re also a surfer, I’d recommend the Apple Watch Series 7. If you’re just looking for a surf watch, I’d probably go for another watch that’s less flashy and expensive. 

Key Features:

  • GPS features that track wave count, paddle distance, max speed, session duration, time on waves
  • Cell service allows you to get texts and notifications in the water
  • Amazing display

Downsides:

  • If purchased in the US, cell service only works in the US, Mexico, Canada, and Puerto Rico
  • Expensive and flashy for a surf watch
  • Waterproofing is not as good as any other surf watches on this list

6. Shark Classic Clip – Best retro surf watch

If you’re looking for a fun, retro surf watch with a simple yet classic look, you might like a Freestyle Shark Watch

These surf watches were inspired by 80’s surfboard leashes, and Freestyle has kept the look alive with their colorful, velcro wrist bands. 

Shark Watches are pretty simple, and don’t have any of the features of more high-tech tide watches on the market. They tell the time, are rated as water resistant to 100 meters, have a night mode so you can see the screen in low light, along with an alarm function. 

However, for many surfers, that’s really all you need! 

My very first surf watch was a Shark Watch, and I had that thing for YEARS until I finally broke it. But, they are backed with a lifetime warranty, which is pretty sweet. 

Key Features:

  • Sweet, simple retro surf watch that tells the time
  • Fun, vibrant colors
  • Velcro wrist strap

Downsides:

  • The biggest downside of these watches is that it’s very difficult to change the battery, and attempting to change the battery yourself can ruin the watch’s water resistance. Freestyle recommends sending it to their Freestyle Repair Center to change the battery. The batteries in these watches are supposed to last 1-2 years, depending on how often you use it. My watch battery lasted about 3 years with pretty regular use. 

7. Nixon Rival Women’s surf watch- Best eco-friendly women’s surfing watch

Nixon makes awesome watches, and I think it’s pretty great how they’ve expanded their surf watch line to include some surf watches specifically for women! One of which is the Nixon Rival Women’s surf watch

This surf watch has the exact same functionality as the men’s Nixon Rival Surf Watch, but incorporates a more feminine style and shape. So if you have smaller wrists, you won’t feel like you’re wearing a small computer on your arm while surfing. Which is pretty nice. 

The main features of this watch include tide data from 550 pre-programmed beaches, sunrise/sunset times, time of day, alarms, and an EL backlight. 

And, like some of Nixon’s other surf watches, it’s made with recycled ocean plastics! 

Key Features:

  • Tide and sunrise/sunset data from 550 pre-programmed beaches
  • Made from recycled ocean plastics
  • Shape and style for women
  • Soft silicone armband 

Downsides:

  • Display isn’t the easiest to read

8. Nixon Siren– Most fashionable surf watch for women

The Nixon Siren is by far the most stylish women’s surf watch on the market. It currently is available in aqua, burgundy, black, white, and pale pink. If you’re looking for a basic tide watch that is very aesthetically pleasing- this is the one for you. 

In terms of features, the Nixon Siren is water rated to 100m, shows date/time, and has basic tide functionality. You can toggle the home screen back and forth between time and date, or time and tide. 

Key Features:

  • Time/date
  • Basic tides
  • Negative LCD display
  • EL backlight

Downsides:

  • Many surfers report the display is difficult to read, even more so than with the Nixon Rival

9. Armitron Sport Watch– Best simple surf watch for women

If you don’t need all the bells and whistles of a fancy tide watch and just want a durable, water resistant surf watch that can tell you the time, check out the Armitron Sport Watch

During my surf trip to Costa Rica, I didn’t want something flashy, but I really wanted to be able to check the time while out in the lineup. I wore this surf watch every single day for a 4 month surf trip, and never had any issues with it. Well, aside from the crazy bad watch tan I developed. 

This watch comes in classic colors like black and white, but also fun shades like light purple, turquoise, and pink. It’s a pretty small watch, which was great for me because I have tiny wrists. 

It’s also very inexpensive, but works extremely well for the price. 

Key features:

  • Simple, inexpensive surf watch for women
  • Comes in several fun colors
  • Has a backlight

Downsides:

  • It wasn’t comfortable to wear for more than 12 hours in a row, but was totally fine to wear while surfing. 
  • The watch face is very small. This was an upside for me, but if you have any issues reading small texts then you might want a slightly bigger watch face. 

10. Casio W800H-1AV– Best simple surf watch for men

The Casio W800H-1AV is the men’s counterpart to the Armitron- it’s a simple, inexpensive, waterproof watch that’s PERFECT for keeping an eye on the time while you’re out in the water. 

This surf watch is rated water-resistant to 100m, which is pretty much the gold standard for surf watches. 

The display is backlit, easy to read, and gives you the time, has a stopwatch, and alarm functions. 

If you’re looking for a simple, affordable watch to take out in the lineup- this is the best option out there. 

And, the battery of this watch lasts ten years- it really doesn’t get much better than that. 

Key Features:

  • Affordable, water-resistant watch
  • Displays time
  • LED light
  • Has stopwatch and alarm functions
  • 10 year battery life

Downsides:

  • Some users report the wrist strap breaks before the watch hits the 10 year battery life

11. Rip Curl Rifles Tide Watch

The Rip Curl Rifles Tide Watch is a high-quality, easy to use surf watch that’s perfect for surfers who want to keep track of the tides without struggling through instruction manuals to set up their watch. 

The watch has a menu based interface which makes it very simple to program the tides

The watch face neatly displays the tide chart, time, and date, saving you the ease of toggling between faces. 

Key Features:

  • Very easy to use
  • Includes pre-programmed tide data from 500 different beaches
  • Time, date, stopwatch features
  • Backlight
  • Extremely secure wrist strap

Check Prices Here(box)

Downsides:

  • Not as tough as other surf watches on the market

Surf watch FAQS

Is it okay to surf with an Apple Watch?

Yes! Pro big wave surfer Matt Bromley took his Apple Watch out surfing at both Jaws and Mavericks, where he and the watch both survived some pretty intense hold downs. 

Which is the best surf watch?

It depends what you’re looking for. If you want to track your waves, the best surf watches are the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Surf and the Rip Curl Search GPS 2. 

If you want a cheap watch that tells the time, I love the Armitron sport for women and the Casio W800H-1AV for men.

Which surf watches track waves?

The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Surf, Rip Curl Search GPS 2, and the Apple Watch track your waves. 

Final thoughts on the 11 best surf watches

That’s a wrap on my list of the best surf watches! It’s pretty amazing how many features are packed into these devices. From getting messages in the lineup, tracking your waves, and telling the time- these watches do it all. 

I hope this list has helped you to find the perfect surf watch for your needs- happy surfing, and feel free to check out my other surf buying guides while you’re at it:

Best Sunscreen for Surfers

Best Gloves for Surfers

Best Surf Accessories

Best Gifts for Surfers

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