Best watches for surfers in 2018

The perfect watch for surfers doesn’t yet exist, but in 2018 manufacturers are nudging closer to the goal.

While the surf brands like Rip Curl, Nixon and Vestal offer surfer-specific functionality lacking in the mainstream brands, they’d better be scared of what the brains at Cupertino are cooking up. By a long way, the most versatile choice is the Apple Watch Series 3, which only falls short in the software department with no really good surf app. When someone makes a wave tracking app for Apple Watch there will be a clear winner.

Check out the contenders in the 2018  round-up of watches for surfers.

Apple Watch Series 3

It is sexy and stylish – a fashion statement and a mini-iPhone on your wrist. Listen to music streamed from your Apple Music library, track movement using GPS and check your heart rate – all at the same time.

Apple have used images of surfers to promote Apple Watch – both Series 2 and Series  3 – but it’s a shame that no wave tracking app exists yet. Imagine filling that beautiful touch screen with radial charts depicting length of ride, speed, paddle strokes and so on. Bring on the surf activity ring!

One issue I found was that the Apple Watch feels a little awkward and bulky under a wetsuit. First world, cold climate problems…

From Apple:

Smart activity coaching. An enhanced Heart Rate app. Your favourite playlists right there on your wrist. A built-in altimeter. And a more powerful processor that lets Siri speak to you. Apple Watch Series 3. Now you can be more active, motivated and connected than ever.

  • Always ready for the pool or ocean

Apple Watch Series 3 is swim-proof and tracks both pool and open-water workouts. After you’re done, sound vibrations eject water from the speaker

  • Stay motivated with your favourite music on your wrist

With Apple Watch Series 3, you can take music with you wherever you go. Your favourite Apple Music playlists are automatically synced to your watch, so you’ll have the motivation you need to power through every workout.

  • Stick with your favourite apps

Whether you’re into circuit training, weightlifting, surfing or yoga, you can use the workout apps you already know and love, and still get credit towards closing your Activity rings.

  • Ultimate Sports Watch

With built-in GPS and an altimeter, Apple Watch Series 3 tracks all your outdoor workouts. An updated Workout app includes high-intensity interval training and auto-sets for swimming laps. You can also access your favourite playlists on your wrist, for endless amounts of musical motivation.

  • Intelligent Activity Tracker

Apple Watch Series 3 tracks all the ways you move throughout the day, whether you’re cycling to work, doing cartwheels with the kids or hitting the gym.

  • Powerful Health Tool

Since Apple Watch Series 3 is always with you, it can help you be more aware of your overall health. It lets you easily monitor your heart rate, better manage everyday stress and add apps that support your specific routines.

  • All-Day Assistant

Return that missed call. Ask Siri to read your latest text messages aloud. Get directions to dinner. With Apple Watch Series 3, you can access important information and accomplish things quickly and conveniently.

Nixon Ultratide

Nixon are the premium choice for surfers who want a product designed by people who actually surf. Their watches are built to last and have a user interface that beats offerings from Rip Curl and Vestal.

Nixon have built an API that pulls real-time Surfline data directly into the device. This definitely gives them an edge.

From Nixon:

An evolution in time and technology, the Ultratide is the product of extensive research, development and an exclusive partnership with Surfline.

  • Watch movement:

Custom-built digital module, with data provided by Surfline. It features a high-resolution display that stays continuously updated with current Surfline forecast data for your favourite surf spots around the world. Choose from the thousands of surf spots in the Surfline network, and get 10 Surfline forecast data points displayed in easy to ready format directly on the watch. Surfline Forecast data points are: Current Surfline rating, current surf height, current swell height(s), forecasted swell direction(s), current water temperature, current air temperature, current sky condition, and 48hrs of tide data with predicted time and height details in both imperial and metric values.

  • Watch dial:

High resolution memory LCD that can be inverted between positive or negative display.

  • Watch band:

30-25mm tapered custom injection molded silicone band with water flow texture on bottom side, patented locking looper, and stainless steel buckle with stainless steel screw bar.

  • Watch case:

45mm wide, 100 meter, customer solid stainless steel 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.

Born in California at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, we make accessories to reflect who we are and the life we live. From  and women’s watches to wallets and other accessories that reflect on our unique point of view, we set out to make products with purpose. We work day and night paying attention to the little things so your smart watch, classic timepiece, skate backpack, travel accessories or maybe even the watch you wear on your next surf trip are all backed with custom design, quality materials and precise workmanship for a life well lived.

TomTom Touch Cardio + Body Composition Fitness Tracker

If you’re looking for something minimalist yet waterproof then TomTom might pique your interest. This watch is so unobtrusive that you’ll hardly notice you’re wearing it, yet you can gather some pretty detailed stats about your daily movement and physiological response.

We loved the TomTom Bandit, so encourage you to check out the Touch Cardio.

From TomTom:

Mix it up and log your workouts in Sports mode, track your stats and share your achievements on social media. You’ll see how the intensity of this morning’s walk compares to yesterday’s run and last week’s boot-cam.

Ultra-slim and sleek design with an elegant touchscreen and stylish straps: wear your TomTom Touch activity trackers all day every day, whatever the occasion.

Get your stats on the go. As a workout tracker, run tracker or swimming (surf) tracker, the TomTom Touch sports tracker gives you everything you need in one simple device.

  • Body composition: Measure your body fat and muscle mass percentage with the touch of a button.
  • 24/7 activity tracking: Capture steps, active time, calories burned, distance walked and sleep time.
  • Heart rate monitoring: Track your heart rate throughout the day with the built-in heart rate monitor.
  • Sports mode: Log your sports and workouts in Sports mode. Track calories burned, active time and heart rate.
  • Phone notifications: Incoming call and text notifications sent right to your wrist, when your phone is close by.
  • Customisable straps: Choose from a range of colourful, high quality strap to match your style, whatever the occasion.

Why track your steps when you can track what your body is made of? TomTom Touch makes other trackers old news because as well as tracking steps, sleep and heart rate, it tracks your body composition. Whether you want to be stronger, fitter, leaner or just want to know: track what you’re made of, not just your steps.

Rip Curl Search GPS

The first real surf watch, Rip Curl have owned this game since the beginning. If you’re looking to share your surf sessions to Facebook then this watch is probably the best you’ll get. They’ve aced the software and most surfers will love being able to track length of ride, waves surfed, speed and more.

For surfers wanting to analyse their sessions you can’t beat this watch. The user interface is basic and the watch is no-frills. It won’t double as a fashion accessory, but you probably won’t care.

From Rip Curl:

The Rip Curl SearchGPS Watch is like no other in the lineup. Track your surf, register your top speed and distance and rack up your wave count in each session. Sync your data to the Rip Curl SearchGPS App or website to re-live your surf with location maps, image sharing and graphic charts which showcase your session. 100% water proof watch.


  • One-Touch Auto Set Time and Tide to 1,360 Tide Locations
  • Track Every Wave with Assisted GPS
  • 10-Hour Battery Life in GPS Tracking Mode, up to Six Months of Regular Use Between Charges
  • Sync Your Surf to The Cloud
  • ABS Case
  • 100m Waterproof Tested
  • Case Width: 44mm
  • Silicone Band

Rip Curl introduced the world’s first tide watch for surfers 25 years ago. Today, we remain the leaders in tide and surf watch technology and innovation. We don’t compromise on our expectations for utilising only the most advanced materials with the highest quality construction in every watch we make. Our mission for Rip Curl watches is to be relied on in every lineup, 100% focused on being The Surfer’s Watch.

Vestal Brig Tide & Train

Vestal’s Brig watch introduces some interesting new functionality to the mix. It is the choice for surfers who are concerned not only about waves ridden but also want to gain insight into their physical condition.

For surfers who are competing in contests, or who take their surfing seriously then the Vestal might be your best choice. It has been designed with performance in mind and has features to match.

The design is minimalist and the screen is reminiscent of an old Casio from the 80s, but simplicity might be all you need in an overly complex world.

From Vestal:

The Brig by Jordy Smith is a digital tide & train watch that can track the tide at over 200 beaches worldwide for the next 20 years. It also offers a host of other high end features like a digital tide graph that features current tide height, quick access to Vestal’s own custom training mode with “Suffer and Recover” interval timer, and Heat Mode with countdown timer so you can practice your surf heats like Jordy. The watch strap is secured to your wrist with a new patent pending OKTOLOCK system. The OKTOGRIP raised pattern on the underside of the band means significantly less rubber contact against your skin providing greater breathability, more flexibility, and a lighter feel on your wrist.


CASE: 44mm Wide Polyurethane Wrapped ABS Plastic
BAND: 24mm Wide Polyurethane
BUCKLE: Screw-Down Stainless Steel
CRYSTAL: Hardened Polycarbonate
MOVEMENT: Custom Digital Tide/Train
WATER RESISTANCE: 10 ATM / Surfing, Swimming & Snorkeling
WRIST: Medium
OTHER: Train Mode, Heat Mode, Alarm Mode, Future Tide Mode
Customizable Beach Setting
T1 & T2 Time Tracking
10 ATM / 100 Meters Water Resistant
Unibody Pu Construction
Heavy-Duty, Screw-Down Stainless Steel Caseback
Battery Type: CR2430

Freestyle Shark Tide Watch 

The Freestyle Shark isn’t the most feature-rich of the surf watches and it might not be the most beautiful. But it is a lightweight and robust creation that features tide and sun data from around the world. 

It doesn’t have GPS or fancy software but might be all you need if what you want is to monitor time and tide.

The watch is a true waterproof model which can be used for all aquatic pursuits, from diving to wave-riding so suits true watermen who need no frills.

It also fits securely and comfortable under a wetsuit sleeve.

From Freestyle:

The essence of Freestyle is embodied in the youthful freedom found at the nexus of surf, sun and fun. This colourful, creative and irreverent intersection of California Beach Culture and Ocean Performance yielded Freestyle Watches – an enduring and iconic brand of water-resistant timepieces epitomized by the Shark Watch. 

Amplified like a music festival, calculated like the tide, and fun like a day at the beach, Freestyle is the world’s original and most trusted watersports watch. Welcome to our ocean, put your phone in a safe place, and dive in.

The mothership has landed. Our most popular style, The Shark Classic, is now available with Tide Data and sunrise / sunset times for 150 beaches worldwide. The Shark Classic Tide also features a durable and fade resistant silicone band which also offers increased flexibility for an improved fit. Like all Shark Watches, the Shark Classic Tide is water resistant to 100 meters and backed by our limited lifetime warranty.

Simply stated, we are a watch company. We make sport watches for people who like to go out and do, and while we may not play the same sport or have the same passions, we all spend our time breathing, bleeding and sweating the same way. At the end of the day it’s all about performance, and through the past 30 plus years Freestyle has become synonymous with performance. We are Freestyle, we are performance timing, and we are ALWAYS ON!

  • Features

  • Water rating

HYDRO PUSHERS Many models in the Freestyle line have Hydro-Pushers. This means that you can push the buttons under water without worry of getting water inside your watch. Refer to the Details section for your watch to see if it has Hydro-Pushers.

  • Size guide

Freestyle Watches vary in case width from 30mm to 52mm resulting in a wide range of sizing options for youth, female, and male wrist types.

 Casio G-Shock G7900-1 

A big, bad watch for people who like to show they’re tough. This watch is the Mr T of water timepieces. The interface is busy, possibly requiring a user manual to understand, but it is functional and did we mention: tough.

It’s not something you’d wear with your favourite suit but for an action man, the G-Shock ticks all the boxes.

Go and do manly things and don’t worry about losing track of time (or tide).

No fancy software needed. Just wear and go surfing. Casio have been around forever and these watches will no doubt outlast pretty much all of the others on this list.

From Casio:

CASIO’s shock-resistant G-SHOCK watch is synonymous with toughness, born from the developer Mr. Ibe’s dream of ‘creating a watch that never breaks’. Over 200 handmade samples were created and tested to destruction until finally in 1983 the first, now iconic G-SHOCK hit the streets of Japan and began to establish itself as ‘the toughest watch of all time’. Each watch encompasses the 7 elements; electric shock resistance, gravity resistance, low temperature resistance, vibration resistance, water resistance, shock resistance and toughness. The watch is packed with Casio innovations and technologies to prevent it from suffering direct shock; this includes internal components protected with urethane and suspended timekeeping modules inside the watch structure. Since its launch, G-SHOCK has continued to evolve, continuing to support on Mr. Ibe’s mantra “never, never give up.”

From G-Shock, the watch that delivers unmatched toughness, comes a collection of new models that deliver a new level of protection. These watches are designed and engineered for rough and rugged activities. Black resin band digital watch with neutral face.


  • Low Temperature Resistant LCD (-20 C / -4 F)
  • Auto EL Backlight with Afterglow
  • Flash Alert (flashes with buzzer that sounds for alarms, hourly time signal, countdown timer time-up alarm, countdown timer progress beeper and stopwatch auto-start)
  • Tide Graph (tide level for specific date and time)
  • Moon Data (moon age of the input data, moon phase graph)
  • World Time
  • 29 times zones (48 cities), city code display, daylight saving on/off
  • 4 Multi-function Alarms and 1 Snooze Alarm
  • Hourly Time Signal
  • Countdown Timer
  • Measuring unit: 1 second
  • Countdown range: 24 hours
  • Countdown start time setting range: 1 minute to 24 hours (1-minute increments and 1-hour increments)
  • Other: Auto-repeat, time-up alarm, progress beeper
  • 1/100 second stopwatch (ST1)
  • Measuring capacity: 999:59’59.99″
  • Measuring modes: Elapsed time, split time, 1st-2nd place times
  • Other: 5-second Auto-start
  • 1/100 second stopwatch (ST2)
  • Measuring capacity: 999:59’59.99″
  • Measuring modes: Elapsed time, split time, 1st-2nd place times
  • Button Operation Tone on/off
  • Auto Calendar (pre-programmed until the year 2099)
  • 12/24 Hour Formats
  • Accuracy: +/- 15 seconds per month
  • Battery: CR2025
  • Approx. battery life: 2 years
  • Module 3194

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