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Surf Watch 101

Surf Watch 101

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Intro / Q & A
Surf Watch HISTORY
3 BEST Brands & Models
NIXON surf watches – Best models
RIP CURL surf watches – Best models
QUIKSILVER surf watches – Best models
Surf Watch CARE

Introduction to Waterproof and Tidal Surf Watches

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

The main difference between a specialized surf watch and any sports watch are the following key features:

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.

What the Surf Watch & Sport Watch both share in common:

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

Sidenote: Can somebody explain me why ALL the waterproof watches have waterproof rating stamped on the watch in metrical, while all the other distances on the water are measured in imperial? Miles and knots.

Comparison of the most advanced sports and surf 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 why choosing one over another is a great choice.

 

The Garmin Forerunner 945 vs. Rip Curl Search GPS

SHARE IN COMMON:

GPS
Bluetooth/Wifi sync
Timer
Stopwatch
Day/Time calendar
Sunrise/sunset times

FORERUNNER PRO‘s over the SEARCH GPS 2
when SURFING

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

SEARCH GPS 2 PRO‘s over the FORERUNNER 945
when SURFING

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

Q & A


What is the max speed record in surfing?

Mick Fanning, an Australian professional surfer, is currently holding the record, 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.


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.


The History of Surf Watch

first surf watch
Rip Curl: Ocean Technology – One of the oldest surf watches from the ’90s

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 phase. 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 still been one of the most advanced surf-watch brands, and by today, their best model is called “The Search GPS 2.”


TOP 3 Best Surf Tide Watch Brands & Models
Reviewed

If you want the best that’s available out there, look no further! Down here I’ve reviewed one of the most favored and advanced surf watches available today!

Best Surf Tide Watch makers today:

1. Rip Curl
2. Nixon
3. Quiksilver
4. Apple

 


 

Rip Curl SEARCH GPS 2
review

“The ultimate surfer’s watch”

As mentioned above, Rip Curl was the first to introduce the surf watch to surfers. Well known boardsports brand offering premium surfwear and technical gear for men, women, and kids at all ages.

Rip Curl Search GPS 2

Purchase from Amazon

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • 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
  • Price range: Around USD 300
  • Battery life: 2 – 3 months without GPS

FEATURES AND TECHNOLOGY

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

LONGEST WAVE
DISTANCE
TOP SPEED
WAVE COUNT

  • 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.

CONCLUSIONS

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 Surfline database. Before that, the MagicSeaWeed used to produce the data. Rip Curl’s watch style is both sporty and professional. Basic color-schemes 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.

SIDENOTES:

  • 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

PROS:

Its 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.

CONS:

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

 

 


Nixon BASE TIDE PRO
review

“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.

nixon surf watch review
Nixon Base Tide Pro selection

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 42 mm
  • Case thickness: 14 mm
  • Band Width: 24 mm
  • Mobile application: ULTRATIDE
  • Price range: Around USD 120

FEATURES AND TECHNOLOGY

  • 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!

CONCLUSIONS

The Base Tide Pro by Nixon is probably one of the best surf watches with the best feedback and reviews!

PROS:

It’s a 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”

CONS:

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

Some reviewers voted 4/5 because Nixon discontinued the UltraTide GPS version

IOS compatible only!

 

Purchase from Amazon

 


 

Apple iWatch

The most universal sports smartwatch – available with a sport band

apple watch sport versions

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 40/44 mm
  • Case thickness (aluminum): 10.7 mm
  • Band Width: 24 mm
  • Mobile application: ULTRATIDE
  • Price range: Around USD 400-800

FEATURES AND TECHNOLOGY

  • GPS!
  • Over 30% larger display
  • 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

CONCLUSIONS

Without any further ado, everyone knows the functionality and the quality of the Apple Smartwatches and their newest 4th series model, which is on the top of the range smartwatch. The specs of the Apple iWatch 4th series are one of the best out there, which means that it is also a great wristwatch for surfing.

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

CONS: Price

Obivously IOS compatible only


 

PRICE RANGE
$1-100
$$ 101 – 200 USD
$$$ 201 – 300 USD
$$$$ 301 – 400 USD

NIXON

California

You will find Nixon waterproof surf watches in every surf, snow, and skate related stores.

Why? Because they are the coolest and best watches that people who are into cool sports all over the world all like in common. They are not only good and original looking but also built with super good quality. Thumbs up to the Nixon team here. Best board-rider style watches with plenty of functions is what the Nixon surf watches are thriving too.

Why prefer Nixon surf watches? Nixon specializes in making the surf/skate/snow accessories only, and have taken the lead position on the watches game in boardsports. Nixon waterproof surf watch is a must-have accessory for any surfer out there.

All Nixon Watches: MODEL/CASE DIAMETER/PRICE

  • 51-30 – 51mm – 430usd – 3 colors
  • Descender Sport – 45mm – 350usd – 1 color
  • Ultratide – 45mm – 280usd – 1 color
  • Ascender Sport – 42 mm – 230usd – 2 colors
  • Ascender – 42mm – 230usd – 3 colors
  • Regulus – 46mm – 150usd – 5 colors
  • Unit – 44mm – 130usd – 44mm
  • Base Tide Pro – 42mm – 120usd – 7 colors
  • Base Tide – 38mm – 100usd – 13 colors
  • Base Tide Nylon – 38mm –  100usd – 3 colors
  • Comp – 38mm – 70usd – 4 colors
  • Comp S – 31mm – 70usd – 3 colors

Check out the Nixon Surf Watches for men and women down below


Nixon “TIME TELLER P”

DIAMETER 40 mm
Price Range $
WATERPROOF 100 meters
Features: As the name says – it’s there to tell you the time only.

Have to like the simplicity of the Time Teller watches. Quite bold but leave a statement for sure. It does best what it is designed and named after – Telling the time. So whoever is going to ask you the time – they are not only going to know the time but will be amused by the simple yet cool design those watches have. The Time Teller is all about simplicity – just like the nature of surfing, skating, and snowboarding. Even if you are the type of person who has hard time choosing “The Watch” to suit every dress code and occasion, Nixon Time Teller is something where you can’t go wrong.

PS: A ton of color variations to choose from!

See this product on Amazon


Nixon “RUCKUS”

DIAMETER 41 mm
Price Range $
Waterproof 100 meters
Features: Analog watch, cool and rugged retro waterproof design.

This is another futuristic/vintage mixture style surf watch. It is waterproof, has a bitchin’ design and awesome color-schemes to choose from. There are two types of people – the ones who love digital, and others who prefer analog watches. Well, I like analog watches when surfing. I don’t want to get distracted by any electronics, and that’s why it is good to go surfing with an analog watch. No phone, no computer, no numbers, no screens – no nothing. Away from it all. The Ruckus looks loud and proud. 

It features a polycarbonate case, raised bezel protects the hardened mineral crystal face from scratches or any other damage during surfing or partying.

See this product and various color-schemes on Amazon


Nixon “UNIT”

DIAMETER44 mm
Price Range: $
Waterproof: 100 meters
Features: +/- display, 12/24h time, calendar, temperature gauge, timer, alarm, backlight

Well, this little multi-tool has all you need. It is part of the “Cosmos Collection,” which means it’s got the dynamic colors and unique treatments of materials that show off a rainbow of progressive design on mirror finishes. Hologram crystals, and leathers. Custom injection-molded polycarbonate case with fixed polycarbonate bezel. The Unit comes with custom injection molded polycarbonate dial ring. Hardened mineral crystal screen. Wow, It’s all engineered well enough to land under a three-digit mark. If this model here won’t satisfy your needs, but all the other features do – go check out about ten other color-schemes available from the link below.

It is excellent due to its rugged design, comfortable band, and multifunctional features. A perfect surf watch by Nixon.

See this model and different color-schemes on Amazon


Nixon “LODOWN”

DIAMETER 43 mm
Price Range $
WATERPROOF 100 meters
Features: Day, time and month, light, tide, dual time, alarm, countdown timer, wave counter, and chronograph

LoDown seems to visually keep the Low profile Down the radar while functioning well over the norm. It’s price hits also below the hundred-dollar line. Many features, various color-schemes and the high-quality standards by Nixon make this a desirable surf watch for many. It’s got a more square and elegant design compared to the previous rugged, loud and proud Nixon Watches. Make sure you check out the seller’s reviews before ordering this watch – as many customers claim that the watch arrived with an empty battery. I have a thing for camo-styled designed items, so this watch will most definitely be written on my Christmas wish-list. So Santa, whenever you are reading this and considering to get me this, here’s a good hint: Can’t go wrong with Nixon when choosing a surf watch.

See this product and different color-schemes on Amazon


Nixon “ULTRATIDE”

DIAMETER 45 mm
PRICE Range $$$
Waterproof 100 meters
Features:
Bluetooth, Time, Tide, Wave Height, Swell Direction, Wind Direction, and Speed. Water and air temperatures. Geolocating, Sky Condition

By looking at the specs this watch has got, looks like there’s nothing else to ask for. Once you get this watch – make sure you have time to surf as well, cause you might just get carried away by looking at the beautiful screen this watch has. But I get it. Sometimes when the sets get low, and there’s nobody around you to talk about the surf, It’s good to plan the next few days of the surf while waiting for the next good set to roll by.

How can you check the forecast for the next days? Well, this Nixon Ultraride is connected with Surfline network, where you can use GeoLocate to check out the breaks near you. It will show you all the information on a big and clear screen in imperial and metric values. It’s not only the inside that makes this watch one of the top range surf watches out there, but also the core. It’s got a custom solid stainless steel case core with co-molded custom injection molded polyurethane and silicone casing: integrated pushers, and a prominent solid stainless steel bezel to protect the hardened mineral crystal. Tapered custom injection molded silicone band with water flow texture on the bottom side, patented locking looper, and a stainless steel buckle with stainless steel screw bar. Whoa, I hope that convinced you to give this watch a go!

Check out the Ultratide on Amazon


Nixon “SUPERTIDE” 

DIAMETER 45 mm
PRICE Range $$
WATERPROOF 100 meters
Features: 
Time, date and month, 12/24h, Tide, Alarm

 

This Supertide’s central concept is like its name says: specializing on the Tide. It’s got a nice, large and bright screen to read the details. This model here has got fun color-scheme as well, that you don’t see very often on other surf-watches. With the rhythm of the tide displayed in high-resolution detail, the Supertide syncs you up with the motion of the ocean, so you know exactly when to go for a surf. Whether you’re sitting in the line up at your local break or frothing away in your car, stuck in traffic, by having a super-tide you know when to hit the waves. This watch is sitting right in the middle of this list and is probably best for a person who likes a solid, well multi-functional surf watch like this Supertide here. It’s lightweight, rugged and excellent quality – as the Nixon standards go.

See this product and different color-schemes on Amazon


Nixon “REGULUS”

DIAMETER 37 mm
PRICE $$
WATERPROOF 100 meters
Features: Digital module with calendar, dual time, alarm, countdown timer, and light functions. Custom LCD in either negative or positive display

A watch with a wide band, reliable and bright screen, and multifunctional features. Take throwback style to the next level with the nostalgic-inspired vibes of the Nixon Regulus surf watch. Team-designed and built-in custom collaboration with U.S. Special Operations. Custom solid stainless steel case,  hardened mineral crystal, injection-molded silicone pushers. Articulated, free swing leather strap with locking looper for a secure fit.

Check out the Nixon Regulus on Amazon


 

rip curl logo

RIP CURL

Australia

Another well-known brand that does kick-ass surfing sports gear. Rip Curl belongs to the “Big Three” Australian surfing companies with Billabong and Quiksilver. Rip Curl surf watches are preferred by many and for a good reason!

Check out the Rip Curl Surf Watches for men down below:


Rip Curl “RIFLES”

Case DIAMETER 41 mm
PRICE Range $$
WATERPROOF 100 meters
FEATURES: 500 programmed tide locations / Graph & Detailed view, Stop Watch, Dual time, Light, Countdown counter, ABS Case.

The matte black rifles have the necessary features to be a right choice for the needy surfers. The Rifles features a Polyurethane material that withstands dramatic temperature changes and is highly tear-resistant. ABS Case stands for sturdy and lightweight plastic on the case and strap construction. This watch is said to be extremely easy to use as well!

Conclusions: Looks good, sits at the beginning of the 3-digit price range and features a wide variety of surf-related gadgets.

Check out the Rifles on Amazon


Rip Curl “SEARCH GPS 2”

Case DIAMETER 43 mm
PRICE Range $$$
WATERPROOF 100 meters
FEATURES: GPS Tracking, App sync, 1400 pre-programmed locations, Top Speed, Distance, Duration, Swell Height, Swell Direction, Sunrise&sunset, Moon phase.

As the name already exposed, the “Search GPS” by Rip Curl features a GPS tracking, on top of all the previous essentials a tide watch should have. Due to the versatility, Search GPS 2 is also suitable for snowboarding, swimming, running and much more.

Conclusions: You get what you pay for, and this is watch stands at the top-range position of the surf watches in this list.

Check out the Search GPS 2 on Amazon


quiksilver logo

QUIKSILVER

Australia

One of the most popular boardsports brands in the market. Quiksilver has gained trust among the extreme sports enthusiasts by making the gear and plenty of accessories to match the occasion.

Check out the most popular Quiksilver surf watches for men:


Quiksilver “ADDICTIV PRO”

Case Diameter 40 mm
PRICE Range $$
WATERPROOF 100 meters
FEATURES: 12/24h, Tide indicator, calendar, chronograph, countdown.

Addictiv Pro is a basic electrical surf tide watch by Quiksilver. It features a solid TR90 Case and TR90 Nylon crystal screen. The band has made of UV-resistant silicone. The overall look of this watch is very simple; both professional and casual.

 

Conclusions: Pretty basic, yet rugged tidal watch. If you don’t need to be updated about the weather 24/7 and can rely only on tides, this watch is perfect for that!

Check out the Quiksilver Addictiv on Amazon


Quiksilver STRINGER

Case Diameter 46 mm
PRICE Range $$
WATERPROOF 100m
Features: Dual time, alarm, sunrise/sunset, heat timer, training mode based on Tabata training, Countdown timer and, Electro-luminescent night dial, 12 years of pre-programmed tide data for 300 spots around the world. Including the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia Pacific & Africa.

The Stringer is an advanced Quiksilver surf tide watch. It’s equipped with more features than the Addictiv Pro. Also, the case is rather large and it’s got a fair price considering the number of features this watch has got!

Conclusions: A great tide watch with plenty of bells and whistles! Can’t go wrong picking the made by Quiksilver when choosing a surf gear.

Check out the Stringer on Amazon


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 saltwater, 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)

Thank you, and have a great one!