Best Surf Watches in 2020


3 BEST Surf Watch Brands & Models

FAQ / Q & A
Surf Watch HISTORY

Swim vs Surf Watch COMPARISON
Surf Watch CARE

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Introduction The Best Tide & Waterproof Surf Watches

What is Surf Watch? The Surf Watch or other times called the Tide Watch is a tool that helps to monitor stats and/or surf conditions. Depending on the model, the watch gives great insight into the statistics of your performance. That’s something many athletes are after as the stats can be a great reference.surfer surfing

TOP 3 Best Surf Tide Watch Brands & Models

If you want the best that’s available out there, you don’t have to look any further!
Down here I’ve reviewed one of the most favored and advanced surf watches available today!

Rip Curl Search GPS 2 – The most advanced and specialized sports watch
Nixon Base Tide – Best-looking surf tide watches
Watch Series 3 – The most universal smartwatch for everything



1. Rip Curl SEARCH GPS 2

The ultimate surfers’ watch

Rip Curl was the first surf brand to introduce the modern tide watch to surfers. A well-known boardsports brand offering premium surfwear and technical gear for men, women, and kids of all ages sure know how to produce top-quality accessories.

Rip curl Search Gps 2 in Black

MSRP $299


  • Case Diameter: 43 mm
  • Case thickness: 15.5 mm
  • Band Width: 31 mm
  • Weight: 2.24 ounce
  • Band length: Men’s Standard
  • Available colors: Black, Blue, Mint, Yellow
  • Mobile application: SEARCH GPS
  • Battery life: 2 – 3 months without GPS


Search GPS 2 is top of a line surf watch that has all the essential features you could expect from a premium tide watch. It’s fully equipped, including:


  • GPS Activity Tracking
  • Real-time surf conditions
  • Analog-quartz Movement
  • Water-resistant to 100m (330ft): suitable for swimming and snorkeling, but not for diving
  • Surf Conditions – Swell Height & Direction, Wind Speed & Direction – Provided by SURFLINE
  • Rip Curl Tide Info (1,400 Global Locations!)
  • One-Touch Auto-Set (Indoor Compatible)
  • Day, Date, Calendar, Alarm, Stopwatch, Moon Phase, Sunrise/Set Times, Stopwatch, Countdown Timer, Backlight
  • Permanent Pairing, Bluetooth Compatible
  • Rechargeable Battery

Read more from the owner’s manual.


It’s got everything you could ask from a Surf Watch in 2019. It’s built SPECIALLY FOR SURFING, but you can easily use the watch on all sorts of other activities as well including; swimming, cycling, jogging, sailing, fishing, etc.


  • It takes time to update the data and get used to using the watch
  • It’s pricey, but with an OK price compared to other similar sports watches
  • Not many colors to choose from
  • IOS compatible only! Sorry Android owners


Search GPS2 is smaller, lighter, and more durable than its predecessor. The motto of Rip Curl is also “The Search.” One of the most iconic Australian surf brands Rip Curl has been a definite favorite to many surfers worldwide from the very beginning. Today, Rip Curl surf watch software updates the wind and swell data through GPS signals from the Surfline database. Before that, the MagicSeaWeed used to produce the data. Rip Curl surf watch style is both sporty and professional – suitable for men and women. Basic color-schemes are available that you are seeing when surfing – black, dark blue, mint blue, and yellow!

Sync your activities to the Search GPS iPhone app to log, review, relive, and share your session.


  • You might need to charge the watch first
  • It takes 1-5 minutes to get the GPS signal
  • Turn on the watch outdoors, where the GPS signals are stronger
  • On cloudy days it might take more time to reach the GPS reception

Search GPS 2 >> Amazon




Best surfing tide watch out there

Nixon is an American surf wear brand that focuses on making boardsports surf watches, and they are pretty damn good at it! All around the world where any board-sports related equipment is for sale, Nixon watches can be found behind the glass doors for sure.

Blue Nixon Base Tide Pro

MSRP $150


  • Case Diameter: 42 mm
  • Case Thickness: 14 mm
  • Band Width: 24 mm
  • Mobile Application: ULTRATIDE


  • Real-time tide
  • 550 pre-programmed tides for 15 years
  • Time, day, date, future tide times
  • Chronograph
  • Countdown timer
  • Wave counter
  • Time of day 12/24h
  • Day/Date calendar
  • Sunrise/Sunset times
  • EL backlight
  • TR90 case with hardened mineral crystal
  • Custom water resistant PC pushers case
  • Stainless steel screw-down case back
  • Three different alarms
  • Double locking looper
  • Three types of alarms
  • Whale Belly Pattern on the backside of the band helps channel the water off your wrist
  • Crisp screen
  • Negative LCD with printed tide graph dial
  • The Ultra Tide women’s features way more color-schemes with a smaller case as well!


The Base Tide Pro by Nixon is probably one of the best surf watches with the best feedback and reviews! If you are looking for a wide section of surf style watches, go check out the link below.


Nixon Base Tide Pro >> Amazon



It’s Nixon’s watch. It does not cost a fortune considering it’s one of the toughest surf tide watches available!

Nixon watches are always with a maximum minimalistic look as possible – very low profile. It’s got everything and a little bit more on some quirks and features while not being a severe, smart/GPS surf watch. Plenty of customization and all the essentials are there! Great color options as well – there are more models for women! The double-lock strap is a cool feature. Many people also use it for other activities as well, thanks to the full range of features; Whether it will be sailing, fishing, hiking, swimming, etc.

Some of the best reviews:

  • “Watch is even more eye candy in person; Functionality is on point, and so is the feel of it.”
  • “Rugged enough for wearing every day.”
  • “Greatest. Watch. Ever. Stop reading this review and buy one now. Never surf again at the wrong tide. Know before you ever lead the house. No other tide watch is closer to the truth.”
  • “Radical”


  • Some locations had mistuned Tide information
  • Some unhappy customers (probably rival brand fanboys) claiming the watch to only last a year, and some occasional squealing customers who are never happy. This watch is basically a tool that needs to be taken proper care of in order the watch to last
  • Some reviewers voted 4/5 because Nixon discontinued the UltraTide GPS version
  • IOS compatible only!


3. Apple Watch Series 4

The most universal sports smartwatch

apple watch 4 with sport band

MSRP $330


  • Case Diameter: 40/44 mm
  • Case thickness: 10.7 mm (Aluminum)
  • Band Width: 24 mm
  • Mobile application: ULTRATIDE


  • GPS!
  • Over 30% larger display than previous models
  • 50% louder speaker
  • Electrical and optical heart sensors
  • Digital Crown with haptic feedback
  • Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Automatic workout detection
  • S4 SiP with a faster 64-bit dual-core processor
  • Improved accelerometer and gyroscope for fall detection
  • Tracking Data – UV index, activity, calories burned, distance, heart rate, steps taken, time
  • Integrated Components – heart rate sensor, navigation
  • Battery life: up to 18 hours
  • Waterproof: 50M/164 ft
  • Sensors – Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, barometric altimeter, gyro sensor
  • LTPO OLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
  • Resolution 448 x 368 pixels
  • Internal: 16 GB
  • Loudspeaker


Without any further ado, everyone knows both the functionality and the quality of the Apple Smartwatches and their previous 4th series model, which is on the top range smartwatches. The specs of the Apple Watch Series 4 are one of the best out there, which means that it is also a great wristwatch for surfing. The best Apple watch band for surfing is the rubber band.

Series 3 comes with GPS! Check out the waterproof comparison down below!

The PROS: The Apple smartwatch is a way to go when you are after one of the most popular, therefore best smartwatches for sports purposes out there. It’s a watch for everything – surfing, everyday activities thanks to the smart notifications, it’s even got a loudspeaker!

The CONS: IOS compatible only

Apple iWatch 4 >> Amazon

or, get the latest 5th series!


Q & A


What is the max speed record in surfing?

30mph police speedometer

Mick Fanning, an Australian professional surfer, is currently holding the speed record in surfing, a whopping 39.1 km/h (24.3 mp/h). An average surfer is probably cruising around 15-20 km/h (around 10 miles per hour).


Is the surf watch comfortable?

As these watches are designed to be submerged and wrapped around your wrist when paddling for hours – then YES, a good surf watch must be comfortable while not straining your wrist.


Can I surf with my Apple watch?

Apple Watch surfing / waterproof ratings:

  • Apple Watch Series 1: Water-Resistant – Not recommended for submerging
  • Apple WatchSeries 2: Waterproof – Can be used swimming in the pool or ocean. Not recommended for diving.
  • Apple Watch Series 3: Waterproof – Can be used for swimming in pools and oceans. Avoid shallow depths
  • Apple Watch Series 4: Waterproof – Can be used for recreational swimming in the pool and surfing in the ocean. Avoid shallow depths.
  • Apple Watch Series 4: Waterproof – Great for surfing and swimming alike. Avoid diving in shallow depths!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure to rinse your watch after each use, and try not to push any buttons as the water might squeeze in between

Why do I need a surf watch?

1.) To analyze the DATA

Well, surfing is not about chasing the record speed or maximum distance, but mainly to plan your sessions and examine the data of your efforts. It has been said, that an average surfer earns above the average wage so, I’m sure most successful people like to know the stats and data of what they’ve put in.

  • Wave count – Know how many waves you have surfed
  • Water temperature – Why not check it out when this cool gadget is there?
  • Maximum speed when surfing – Hey, aren’t we all interested the most about it?
  • Maximum Wave Height – Another great surf watch gadget that would help to measure the height of the waves
  • GPS tracking – Know exactly where did you surf the most

2.) To plan your sessions by knowing the TIDE & CONDITIONS

Most point breaks work on certain tides. Surfing on a low tide, in general, can be dangerous due to the shallow reef, or less water depth over the reef. On the other hand, surfing on high tides, the waves might not be breaking at all since the bathymetry characteristics and too high water level don’t make the waves break at all. So, by knowing the tides times at certain breaks, you can plan your sessions.

3.) To know the TIME

It is easy to get carried away when surfing the waves, but sometimes we have to get somewhere in time. Whether to work, to an appointment, or go to the supermarket before it closes.

4.) Use it on OTHER WORKOUTS and activities

It is specially designed for surfers but can be used on any other sports as well that tracks your distance, max speed, etc. Swimming, cycling, jogging, hiking, and why not for fishing and yachting as well.

What Not To Do With Surf/Apple Watches?

Avoid using conditioners, shampoos, soaps, lotions, and perfumes as those can negatively affect rubber seals and acoustic members. Use clean water to rinse the watch and soft cloths for drying.


Then and now

surf watches then and now

The first surfing tide watch was introduced to surfers about 25 years ago by Rip Curl. The primary “tool” that could be set were the tides and moon phases. The watch had around 200 pre-programmed surf locations with sunrise/sunset times integrated. At the beginning of the 90s, computers were rare in households so can you imagine what reputation that mini-computer could have had back then? Rip Curl has been one of the most advanced surf-watch brands today.


Surf vs Swim/Sports Watch

Here you’ll find the difference between one of the most advanced surf tide watch and one of the most advanced sports-watch. Whether you are considering getting a specific surf watch or thinking of a sports watch that has nearly similar features, I’ve listed one of the most popular and advanced models to get a rough idea of why choosing one over another is a great choice.

garmin forerunner 945 vs rip curl search gps 2

Differences between a specialized Surf WatchSports Watch

PRO’s of having a surf watch over a regular sport’s watch

  • Wave counter – How many waves you surfed
  • Tide information – Moon phases, current tide height, computes future tides
  • Pre-programmed tide locations on most popular surf spots around the world
  • Sunrise/Sunset times
  • GPS & WiFi – Track your overall distance and exact locations
  • Wave height – How big were the waves you surfed
  • Water temperature – Know what wetsuit to wear
  • Wave period – Measures the swell period
  • Wind speed & direction
  • Max speed
  • Distance paddled
  • Backlight – Helps you see that screen on sunny days or low light evenings/mornings
  • Alarm – To set the alarm when you have to start moving back to work/wake up
  • Sturdy yet comfortable rubber band – A key feature any sports watch must have
  • 10 ATM waterproof -50-100M / 165 -330ft Designed to use on all water activities except for diving
  • Countdown timer – In case you are going somewhere in time
  • Stopwatch
  • A well-detailed display – For a quick and clear peek while doing sports
  • Smartphone compatible – Sync the stats

Any other sports watch for swimming does not have the essential data many surfers are the most interested in – max speed, wave counter, wave period, etc. A surf watch is designed mainly with a comfortable and durable rubber band. There are some surf watches with a metal band as well but seems logical that rubber and skin don’t go together in a high-intensity activity like surfing.

Surf Watch & Sport Watch commonalities

  • Backlight
  • Alarm
  • Strong and comfortable rubber band
  • Waterproof rating
  • Countdown timer
  • Stopwatch
  • GPS
  • A well-detailed display
  • Smartphone compatible
  • Time and date
  • Calendar


The Garmin Forerunner 945 vs. Rip Curl Search GPS

  • GPS
  • Bluetooth/Wifi sync
  • Timer
  • Stopwatch
  • Day/Time calendar
  • Sunrise/sunset times
Garmin FORERUNNER PRO‘s over the SEARCH GPS 2 for surfers
  • Pace, stroke count/rate
  • Stroke distance
  • Calories burnt
  • Find my watch app
  • Heart rate zones
  • Smart notifications – Text response/reject
  • Display resolution 240 x 240 pixels
  • Battery life: Smartwatch mode up to 2 weeks, GPS only up to 36 hours, GPS + Music up to 10 hours
  • Sunlight-visible, transflective MIP (memory-in-pixel) screen
  • Accelerometer
  • Thermometer
  • Gyroscope
Rip Curl SEARCH GPS 2 PRO‘s over the FORERUNNER 945 for surfers

1400 pre-programmed surf locations live data
10 ATM waterproof rating
Swell, wind, tide track
Real-time surf conditions
Water temperature


Surf Tide Watch CARE

Frequent temperature changes, salt water, and big wipeouts can diminish the longevity of the watches rubber seals. To keep the watch in peak condition for surfing we recommend you have your watch seals replaced and thoroughly tested every two years of use. After the watch is exposed to salt water, rinse thoroughly in freshwater, and wipe dry with a soft cloth after the session.

  • Update your watch firmware when possible.
  • Do not clean watch with spray cleaners, thinners, or other such volatile agents.
  • Never try to open the watch.
  • Avoid exposing the watch to extreme temperatures.
  • Should moisture appear inside the watch, have it checked by your local dealer or sent it to warranty inspection.
  • Avoid dropping the watch and rough treatment.
  • Avoid exposing the watch to gasoline, cleaning solvents, aerosol sprays, paint, etc., as chemical reactions with such agents will destroy seals, case, and finish.
  • Do not operate buttons underwater (Can do it on Nixon surf watches though).

duckdiving a wave surf blur

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