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Surf Watches: How To Choose One That Suits You?

Most surfers don’t know the need for a surf watch. And it’s not surprising. You only have to use a surf watch once for you to know the benefits it offers. Surf watches are specifically designed to provide you with a better surfing experience. Most of them could even be double as your regular watch for daily use.

Whether you are looking to get a fancy and sophisticated surf watch that can be used to monitor your daily surfing goals or just want a simple watch that can just be used to keep track of time when surfing, this piece is just for you.

I have written this easy guide on essential details to look out for when deciding to take the final step towards procuring your surf watch.

Why do You Need a Surf Watch?

Those newly introduced to surfing as a sport, often wonder why surfers need a watch. They ask the question, why do you need a watch in water? People tend to diminish the importance of surf watches.

However, performance tracking and assessment are important in surfing like any other sport. With surf watches, you can monitor your performance in the water. Surfers can also track the tides. Some even come with a feature that allows you to record yourself as you catch waves when surfing.

With a top-notch surf watch as one of your gears for water sports, weather conditions too can be checked before dashing into the ocean. Also, some can monitor the temperature of the water.

Finally, just like any regular watch, the surf watch tells the time. You can time your activity in water. Timing is an important aspect of all forms of sports. With this timepiece at your wrist, you get to improve your surfing experience. Forecasts in the form of tide graphs and charts obtained from the watch can help improve your timing and of course, make you a better surfer.

How do Surf Watches Work?

The principle by which surf watches carry out their functions is complex. Complex mechanism to produce an enjoyable and better surfing experience.

Tide watches use technology that can read the moon’s pull on the tidal movement of the oceans and seas. A chart is then created from the tidal information gathered by the watch. These charts or graphs as the case may be are then displayed showcasing high and low tides which enable surfers to easily navigate their surfboards while surfing.

How to Choose a Surf Watch?

Just like any device, there are certain features or characters that buyers need to look out for. In selecting a surf watch, here are some attributes to look out for.

Tide Information

This is perhaps the most important feature a watch must possess before it can earn the name ‘a surf watch’. Tide watches can give you tide forecasts in the form of charts or graphs. A good tide watch should have data pre-programmed in such a way that it can tell you the times of high and low tides.

Some can even further simplify the data by telling you exactly how high the tide is as well as how low. Tide info is variable just like the weather, it isn’t a constant parameter. Hence, a good surf watch is needed to help simplify and help surfers get a smooth and jolly surfing experience.

Water Resistance

It only makes sense that all watches to be used for water sports must be waterproof since you’d be using them in water. The water resistance rating may vary for individual sports, as exposure to water differs.

For a surf watch, the minimum water-resistance rating should be 50 meters. Though, the higher the water-resistant rating, the better. There are surf watches that even have more than 200 meters rating. For watersports like diving, for example, watches may have a water resistance of over 500 meters. Some watches even have ratings north of a thousand meters.

It should be known that this waterproof rating is not necessarily referring to the watches being immersed in water rather, it’s about how the watch can maintain optimum function at different pressure levels which often varies with depth in the water.

Surf watches with 100 meters depth rating are perfect for surfing, even if in the ocean. Those 50 meters depth ratings like the Apple Series 6 might not be good enough in all surfing conditions. However, with a good case, all your worries are covered. Surf watches with up to 200 meters depth rating and more can be used for surfing and some other water sports like scuba diving.


Here we’d talk about the two common surf watch designs available in the market.

Slim designs: Surf watches with slim designs are often sleeker in appearance. Most common surf watches with simple designs and less sophisticated features fall into this category. However, some smartwatches also come in a slim swim-proof design. Thanks to the less bulk of these watches, you can easily slip them beneath the sleeve of your wetsuit.

Bulk designs: Most sophisticated watches fall into this category, the same goes for surf watches. The bulky nature of these watches oftentimes is to accommodate all the techy features that come with them. Some features like the GPS that may be absent in slimmer designs are present in this category. However, due to their bulky nature, they cannot be slipped underneath the sleeve of your wetsuits like the slimmer designs.


As a rule, the more expensive a product is, the more sophisticated you expect it to be. Also, better material used in designing affords it the needed durability.

Poorly constructed watches may get easily affected by the waves. Also, rocks, sand, and the salty water that surfers are all likely to encounter may affect the integrity of the watch. Hence the need for watches with a solid construction that would ensure their durability.

Watches constructed using reinforced casings- such as those designed using gorilla glass, those with a carbon-fiber case, etc are all top-notch materials used in designing surf watches. As they do not only ensure water resistance. They ensure resistance to shock and scratch.

Extra Information

Other than being able to provide tidal information and being waterproof. There are some extra features surfers get to enjoy when using surf watches especially when more money is spent. As a rule, it is expected that the more money you spend the more comfort you expect to get. Some other amazing features surfers get to enjoy when using quality and fancy surf watches are.

GPS: With this system available to your surf watch, you can mark out your surf spots. Some even help you monitor your speed while surfing.

Connectivity: Some surf watches, like smartwatches, can connect to other devices via Bluetooth and/or wifi. This helps you to transfer data from your watch to these devices, like your smartphones. This way you can track your performances better.

Wave Counting: Smart Watches with fitness and wellbeing monitors may be a tad expensive. However, there are less expensive surf watches with the wave counting feature. They are not necessarily smartwatches, however, they help monitor your surfing progress.

Performance Trackers: Other than the above listed, watches also come with nice features that allow you to keep track of your performance. Countdown timers, stopwatches, alarms all help you to keep a track of your surfing experience.

Final Thoughts

It is safe to say that this piece covers every necessary information about tide or surf watches needed by surfers – both experienced surfers and newbies.

Some surfers who have never used a surf watch before may still feel they don’t need this device. This is just because you’ve never tried one. I was once like this, but ever since I surfed using my friend’s watch I’ve never dashed into the ocean without using this gear. A surf watch should be seen as an important piece of gear when going to the sea. One thing for sure is, even though you already think of yourself as a pro. With a surf watch, you’d surf better. You need to get one as soon as possible!

When you finally decide to procure a surf watch, you might need to go through this article again to fully grasp the kind of watch that suits you best.

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