How do you pick a watch for surfing? Do you even have a ‘surf watch’, or just a watch you surf in? Multiple watches for multiple purposes these days…

To help you along your watch buying journey we’ve tried to narrow down a selection of watches we think best fit the idea of ‘surf watch’ and run a range of affordability. Tide options are a must along with a solid build that will handle the salt and other general beatings you give a watch.

The obvious players are here – Rip Curl and Nixon – along with some options you might have forgotten about or not even thought of. Dig in, have a look and lettuce know if we’ve missed your favorite. Or if you’re looking for a new suit, hit up our Winter Wetsuit Buyers Guide.

Apple Watch Series 3

$460

Apple Watch Series 3 - Surf Watch Buyers Guide

Not the first surf watch you’d think of, but if you’re the smartwatch type of person then this watch is for you. What it lacks in tracking your surfs, it makes up for with everything else it does. From fitness tracking to music streaming to notifications (be careful there tho) to sending texts or emails, the watch has a lot happening.

Although maybe stay away from taking calls (or making them) while you’re out there, don’t be that guy…

The activity tracking is neat and has you feeling great at the end of the day when you close all of your rings. And for the ones who need surf specific action, there’s Ocean Watch – an app that displays tide info.

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Rip Curl SearchGPS

$350

Rip Curl Search GPS Surf Watch

How fast did you go on that last wave?
How many waves did you catch?
How far did you paddle?

All those questions are answered, and some might leave you feeling a little embarrassed. You can check mid-surf on all the stats, I’m always checking how fast I’ve gone on my last wave which never correlates with how fast I thought I went…

Throw in the ability to pick your tide from 1,300+ locations around the world and you have a pretty amazing surf watch that’s fun to surf with. And to be honest, it’s actually pretty fun seeing how your mates are tracking with speed, distance, etc.

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Rip Curl Rifles Tide

$250

Rip Curl Rifles Surf Watch

If you don’t want the waves/speed/distance features, then the next best thing from Rip Curl (IMO) is this – The Rifles Tide.

It’s a solid all-rounder that will serve you well in the areas you want – time, tide and ability to take a beating. It’s running 500 pre-programmed tides so you’re pretty much sweet anywhere you roam in the word. Add to that it’s 100m waterproof tested plus the regular technical features you find in all Rip Curl watches

Having said that, there is another Rifles model available which is straight up loony – it’s titanium and sets the tides automatically amongst other things. And it also costs $700…

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Nixon Regulus

$250

Nixon Regulus - Surf Watch Buyers Guide

If you’re the person who just beats the crap out of their watches and can’t make one last, then the Regulus might your new best friend.

Designed with input from current and former U.S. Special Operations personnel, a high-function, purpose-built, and element-proof watch that’s going to be pretty hard for you to burn through.

It doesn’t have any tide features, but it’s a robust watch that will take a beating and keep ticking. You can check up more about it on the link below where you’ll read about the impact resistant foam and the stainless steel bezel, amongst other features. Color wise you should chase down the black or the camo (above).

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G-Shock G-Lide Tide

$299

G-Shock - Surf Watch Buyers Guide

G-Shock, these guys have been around forever and I love them for it. Silently sponsoring surfers for as long as I can remember. From Jun Jo to Joel Centio and Yadin Nicol to whoever the next surfer is…

My hot air spiel aside, G-Shock watches are legit amazing. I’ve always been a fan of the DW-900 which has been a collaboration special for years. This one, above, is suited to surf though, with an array of surfing-oriented functions like Tide Graph, Moon Data, and temperature measurement.

It’s a hard looking watch and will stand out in most situations. I’d love to see a full-on black (or any tonal option) colorway.

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Vestal Brig Tide

$215

Vestal Brig Tide Surf Watch

Does Jordy still rides for Vestal anymore? Not even sure they do anything outside throwing wild parties during Coachella.

The Brig, which is still highlighted in Vestals store, is a feature-heavy watch, you’re able to track the tide of 200 beaches worldwide for the next 10 years and there’s even a Heat Mode “where you can practice your surf heats like Jordy.”

All the specs on this watch are legit – 10atm, patent pending OKTOLOCK system and stainless steel caseback – definitely a watch to consider and one that would probably sell like hotcakes if it came with a ticket to the next Coachella party…

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Nixon Base Tide Pro

$200

Nixon Base Tide Pro Surf Watch

The Base Tide Pro delivers a big ol’ dose of durability, functionality, and affordability in a small package. Featuring 500 pre-programmed tides & sunrise/sunset locations inside a tough-as-nails case, you’re looking at a very capable surf watch.

Running with a 100 meter/10ATM custom TR90 case with hardened mineral crystal and 10 ATM water-resistant pushers in a stainless caseback. All of which I’m not entirely sure what it means, but it sounds good.

And don’t forget the Nixon patented double-locking looper band either, that little concept has saved my watch many times from getting lost in the ocean.

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Freestyle Shark Clip Tide

$110

Freestyle Shark Clip Tide Watch - Surf Watch Buyers Guide

My very first watch was a Freestyle Shark, it was multi-colored and I burnt the face off on it one day at the local water slide joint. A group of us went down together and I got squashed against the side of it all, burning the watch case colors off (digitally it still worked). Good memories with Freestyle.

While Shark Clip Tide isn’t as fancy as it’s more expensive rivals here, it’s got tide data for 150 beaches worldwide and a band that lets you just clip in and surf comfortably, never snags.

And for around $100 you’re getting a watch with tide options and some fun colors. Hard to pass this up for a second watch, or a first surf watch for your grom.

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