Surf with a watch

The Best Surf Watches For All Budgets

There was a time when surf watches were essentially just waterproof watches that told the time. In fact, they probably weren't even referred to as 'surf watches'. However, as surfing has developed into one of the most high-performance sports in the world, it's only natural that technological innovation continues to advance, allowing professionals and amateurs alike to get the most out of their surfing sessions and themselves.

Now you may be wondering what the difference between a surf watch and a regular watch is. Most surf watches will be waterproof, have some tide telling features and maybe a timer so you can time your sets. Really high tech surf watches, like the Rip Curl Search GPS Smart Watch, will include GPS that means you can track everything from where you’re catching waves to how long they lasted.

There are lots of different surf watches to choose from, so we’ve laid out some of the best below. All of the watches listed are available in a number of colours. You can shop men's surf watches or women's surf watches.

Entry-level Surf Watches

Mid-Level Surf Watches

Premium Surf Watches



Nixon Siren Surf Watch

The Nixon Siren Surf Watch is the most affordable surf watch we sell yet it still includes some of the features from the top-end surf watches such as basic and future tide. If you’re a keen surfer who doesn’t want to break the bank, this watch has all the basics you would need in a surf watch.

Features include:

  • Basic tide and future tide – input the next high tide time into your watch and it will show you a tide graph for past, present and future tides
  • Water-resistant up to 100m
  • Dual time with day and date
  • Calendar
  • Alarm
  • Stopwatch
  • Customizable countdown timer
  • EL backlight
  • The case is made with plastic retrieved from the ocean
  • 2-year warranty  


The more intermediate level surf watch will have some more advanced features such as pre-set timers, which is a necessity for competitive surfing; a final countdown reminder to  ‘send’; and some even feature shifting tide times, which is important when determining the exact moment of low and high tide.

Rip Curl Rifles Tide Bottle Buckle Surf Watch

The Rip Curl Rifles Tide Bottle Buckle Watch is a great watch for tide calculation and will give you the correct tide information from anywhere in the world!

Not only does this watch give the tide times, but it also includes the following:

  • Graph view, which is an 'at-a-glance' tide display scaled for each unique location (there are 500 pre-programmed in the Rip Curl Rifles Tide Surf Watch) and illustrates spring and neap tides. Furthermore, actual tide heights are displayed 8 hours into the future and 2 hours back in the past. 
  • Detailed view, which displays current tide height and direction, including the numeric time and height of the next tide.
  • 100m waterproof tested
  • Alarm, countdown timer, stopwatch and light
  • Sleep mode
  • Simple, menu-based interface

Rip Curl Next Tide Watch

Another great mid-range level watch is the Rip Curl Next Tide Watch. Coming in mens and womens, this watch is not only stylish but has some fantastic features that are a step up from the entry-level watches. A lot like the Rip Curl Rifles surf watch which also has 500 pre-programmed times but the Next Tide watch comes with Spot X. Spot X follows the world accepted average tide cycle of 6hrs 12mins and 25 seconds from high tide to low tide.  This is handy if you can't find a preset location that can be customized to your local beach.

Features include:

  • Spot X 500 pre-programmed global tide locations.
  • Versatile graph and detailed tide displays.
  • Set spot X averaging tide for 1000’s of tide locations.
  • Future tide function.
  • Heat countdown timer with 5 minute and 1 minute warnings.
  • Day, date, calendar, alarm and stopwatch.
  • EL Backlight
  • 100m waterproof tested

Nixon Heat Surf Watch

Nixon’s mid-range Nixon Heat Surf Watch is designed with sports in mind. This favourite training tool of two-time world champion surfer John John Florence features multiple timer options, a rugged but thin 8mm case design, and a sporty, breathable strap. The Heat Surf watch’s special feature is the reminder to ‘send’ on the final countdown when using the timer. This watch is also extremely durable due to its stainless steel case and buttons to help protect against the rigors of competitive sport. The heat surf watch doesn’t have tide information, but instead focuses on timer functions.


  • Chronograph with pre-set timers and custom timer
  • The "Final Countdown" timer has a 60-second "SEND" notification to push you through the finish line
  • Double tongue buckle and double locking loopers provide extra security
  • Dual time with day and date
  • Calendar
  • Light mode
  • Water-resistant up to 100m



Nixon High Tide Surf Watch

Nixon’s top of the range surf watch is the Nixon High Tide Surf Watch. Just like a high-quality wetsuit, the High Tide design centres around durability and comfort. Featuring a bright and bold high-res screen that's customizable to your preferred configuration. Pre-programmed tide makes sure you're always in the know when it comes to your favourite break.

Not only is this watch super functional but you’ll also be doing your bit for the planet as the watch case is made out of plastic from the oceans.

Features include:

  • Water-resistant up to 100m
  • High-resolution display and customizable home screen
  • The case is made with plastic retrieved from the ocean
  • 550 pre-programmed global tide locations.
  • Sunrise, sunset, and moon phase
  • Durable integrated stainless-steel bezel
  • Custom digital module with front-lit, high-resolution MLCD.

Rip Curl Search GPS Series 2 Smart Surf Watch

The pinnacle of surf watches is the Rip Curl Search GPS Series 2 Smart Surf Watch. Rip Curl was the first to take advantage of GPS and motion technology and apply it to surfing. This latest model is smaller, lighter and more durable than before. For the intermediate and experienced surfers, this surfing watch will track all the statistics from your session including:

  • The number of waves you catch
  • Your top speed on the wave
  • The length of each wave
  • The amount of metres/kilometres paddled
  • Session time

Prior to your session though, the Rip Curl Search GPS Series 2 Watch will, thanks to Surfline:

  • Give you the swell height and direction
  • Show you the different tides and the time of each, plus the tide height and direction
  • Display the wind speed and direction

Additionally, all the information gathered will be plotted onto a map, so you can see exactly where you were catching the waves and how long they lasted. A great little feature when you think about sitting in the right spot, and how many (or few) waves come your way. The Rip Curl Search GPS Series 2 Smart Surf Watch will even let you replay your session so you can see how you progressed on each wave. 

Furthermore, every piece of data recorded can be synced with your phone and computer and will allow you to see others (including professionals) who have been surfing - across the globe. You can even share your session on Facebook and Instagram to let everyone else know how rad your session was! 

The Rip Curl Search GPS Series 2 Smart Surf Watch really is ahead of the game when it comes to technological features. The best part as well, is that it's not just for surfing. You can use it for stand-up paddleboarding, kite surfing, windsurfing and even bodyboarding. No matter where you are in the world, you'll be able to track your session.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what your budget is, as even the cheapest watch has some pretty cool features. But if you’re a more advanced surfer, you will not regret opting for a more featured-packed watch. If you want to get the absolute most out of your session and track your progress, then a GPS surf watch is the perfect companion that's most likely going to improve your surfing - a lot. 




Shop our full range of surf watches




Updated on 20th July 2021

Originally published on 3rd December 2018 in Surfing

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