Best Watches For Surfing (2020 Edition)

Surf watches do more than just tell you the time. They are a gold mine of data that can help you be on top of the best times to catch waves (pun intended).

In addition to telling time, surf watches measure and forecast tides at multiple breaks. The more featured-filled (read: Expensive, like $400 expensive) versions will have smart features that help users to check ocean conditions (wave height, wind speed and direction, water temperature, and wave period) in real-time. These features are available from the higher-priced models from Nixon, Apple, Garmin, and Rip Curl.

Below is our list of the top ten surfing watches that we think you should check out.

Nixon Unit
Nixon Unit
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    Best Watch(es): It's a Draw!

    We have a tie for the top watch for surfing.

    Both watches have features that stand out in different ways so to settle things we decided on a draw. Those watches are the Nixon Unit and the Apple Watch Series 5.

    Nixon Unit

    There are several good things about this watch, but one thing that stood out the most was its functionality. The watch is made of breathable silicone which makes it ideal for everyday use. The water resistant feature allows you to jump into the water without any fear of damaging the watch.

    It has a 5 panel LCD screen that displays time, date, chronograph, and thermometer. The chronograph is the best part for surfers. This feature allows you track tides 48 hours in the past and 48 hours into the future at 270 beaches across the globe.

    Depending on where you buy it, you will be parting with $150- $199. This is a solid watch at a solid price.

    Nixon Unit
    Nixon Unit

    Apple Watch Series 5

    Apple is making waves in the water sports industry (see what we did there) with the Series 5. It comes in a water resistant design and has all the unique features that you expect to find in the latest Apple watch.

    The best thing is this; you can customize this watch to have all the surf features that you need. All you will need is Dawn Patrol and Surf Watch. Have these two downloaded on your phone and watch and you can begin to watch tides at your favorite surf spots right on your watch. Hey, you will need to update the face of your watch so that you can view all this info at a glance.

    With Dawn Patrol you will be able to view your heart rate, total ride length, time and wave count.

    You can also add a couple more surfing apps to make things even better.

    Apple Watch Series 5
    Apple Watch Series 5

    Runner Up

    Rip Curl Search GPS 2

    This surf watch comes with a GS 2 feature and motion technology that allows you to track your surf sessions in real-time. The watch has wind and swell data connected from Surfline. This allows you to review the number of waves you catch, your longest ride, speed, calories burnt etc. All this info is plotted on a graph and you can view it at a glance even before you get out of your wetsuit.

    The GPS feature allows you to track every wave. You can sync your surfs to the cloud with this and you can share your sessions on Instagram or Facebook.

    Rip Curl Search GPS 2
    Rip Curl Search GPS 2

    More Surfing Watches

    In addition to Nixon's Unit, the Apple Watch Series 5 and Rip Curl's Search GPS, we also thought the follow surfing watches were pretty great.

    Garmin Instinct Solar Surf

    This one from Garmin is a killer. It is a solar powered watch that allows you to check tide conditions from anywhere in the world. It also allows you to track and record your surf sessions so you can review how well (or poorly) you are doing once you are out of the water.

    Get some bragging rights when you compare your longest rides with your friends. You will be able to monitor your heart rate and calories burnt so that you can assess your fitness level.

    Garmin Instint Solar Surf
    Garmin Instint Solar Surf

    Rip Curl Next Tide

    This sporty watch is made with non-scratch stainless steel that is light weight and durable. This watch has 500 pre-programmed global tide locations with access to information on tide height, tide timings, direction, and tide forecasts.

    Rip Curl Next Tide
    Rip Curl Next Tide

    Rip Curl Drifter Tide

    This charcoal colored watch has many features that make it ideal for surfing. The display is versatile and will allow you to switch from a graph view to a detailed view or vice versa.

    The display illustrates tide heights 8 hours into the future and 2 hours into the past. The detailed view displays tide height and direction. It also features 500 pre-programmed global tide locations

    Rip Curl Drifter Tide
    Rip Curl Drifter Tide

    Nixon October Tide

    This is a classic gun metal steel watch from Nixon. It is water resistant and suitable for surfing. Not too fancy and a solid choice.

    Nixon October Tide
    Nixon October Tide

    Nixon Ultratide

    The Ultratide, the top of the line surf watch from Nixon, is a lightweight water resist watch that has smart features for surfing. It features wireless Bluetooth technology that allows you to stream surf conditions such as tide and swell, wave height, wind direction and speed, and water temperatures. It also helps you to locate the closest surf break to you.

    Nixon Ultratide
    Nixon Ultratide

    Freestyle Shark Classic Tide Watch

    Freestyle has been making classic water resist watches for surfers for a couple of decades or forever, depending on how long you have been surfing. It’s a great, basic surfing watch that is durable in and out of the water.

    The Shark Classic Tide is their most popular watch for surfers. It features tide data as well as sunrise and sunset timings for 150 locations. It offers 100 meter water resistance and is backed by Freestyle’s limited lifetime warranty. It is also comfortable against the skin and fits securely on the wrist.

    Freestyle Shark Classic Tide Watch
    Freestyle Shark Classic Tide Watch

    Vestal Brig Tide & Train

    Vestal is a California-based company that specializes in manufacturing high quality watches and sunglasses. They have nailed it with the Brig Tide & Train that features preloaded tides in over 200 locations.

    This data is displayed on a digital tide graph that appears in the face of the watch. It also features a unique “suffer & recover” interval timer which counts the training intervals versus the rest intervals.

    Vestal Brig Tide & Train
    Vestal Brig Tide & Train

    Quiksilver Stringer Tide Digital Watch

    Quicksilver comes to mind when most of us think about surfing apparel such as board shorts and snow jackets for snowboarding.

    You may not associate this brand with watches; but they have ventures into this niche as well. The Stringer Tide Digital Watch features a proprietary DEEP tide system which offers pre-programmed tide data for 300 surf spots worldwide. It also features an interval timer known as the Tabata high-intensity interval training timer mode.

    Quiksilver Stringer Tide
    Quiksilver Stringer Tide

    Expect to pay between $100- $450 for any of these watches. They are smart watches meaning that you may be able to sync them with surfing apps and have a lot of surf information at your fingertips.

    When choosing the best surf watch, consider factors such as durability, comfort, display, surf information that is available, and other intelligent features.