Tube Time: 5 Best Surf Watches

With every passing year, we slowly learn that old cliche – “time is of the essence” – begins to ring true. Whether it be adhering to a strict work schedule or simply appreciating the fact that every day can offer us something new and exciting if we allow ourselves to embrace it during the day’s waking hours, time is certainly a worth having a handle on. Even more so when we’re trying to squeeze in a quick session before, during, or after work before the sun once again dips below the cotton-candy-colored horizon. Needless to say, maintaining a firm grasp on the ticking clock will help you score some great waves for just the right amount of time as well as prevent any unwanted questions from the boss man when you show up to work with some sand behind your ears.

It’s from here that we decided to do some digging into the surf watch market. And while there may appear to be a fair amount of ideal options out there to choose from, only two to three brands really dominate this niche industry. So, with that in mind, we’re here to present you with 5 guaranteed options across a – relatively – wide price bracket purposed to maximize your time in the water, ensure your hitting it at the right time, and keep you on time so you don’t have to risk losing your job next time it’s firing.

Surf Watches

Are they Worth it?

Along with that’s age-old cliche, there’s also a more nuanced assumption that surf watches are unnecessary, overpriced, and low quality. And to be honest, was this written 5-8 years ago, we’d be somewhat inclined to agree. However, thanks to a handful of modern advancements in both technology and design, today’s surf watches are highly utilitarian yet stylish in appearance – two traits that are highly valued in the contemporary market. For instance, a few of these watches offer current surf conditions and tides for up to thousands of spots and boast superior water repellency so you’ll never have to worry about inhibited functionality after continued use.

Additionally, understanding the need for scheduling a session will inevitably lead to more scoring and less skunking. This all has to do with swell size, direction, and tide swings in a local area. All of which, in fact, are available on specific surf watches these days. That, in conjunction with standard watch features such as timers and alarms, can help you optimize a session and still be on time for whatever’s next on the docket. With that said, are they for everyone? Absolutely not. It’s simply a matter of personal preference for those who work in and around the sea. Our take? A few years ago, no thanks. These days, however, we’re a bit more intrigued.

Vestal The Brig

A training watch like no other, Vestal’s The Brig watch offers both a sleek digital interface and training assistance for the more competitive crowd. In terms of standard features, enjoy tide tracking for up to 200 beaches worldwide for the next 10 years and a digital tide graph for easy interpretation on the fly. As for the training side of things, The Brig hosts what Vestal calls their “Suffer and Recover” interval timer and Heat Mode with a countdown timer allowing you to practice surf heats during your free time before the competition. And for comfort, The Brig also comes equipped with their OKTOLOCK system – a raised pattern underneath the band that reduces rubber contact with the skin resulting in an overall lighter feel on the wrist.

Size: 44mm
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Key Feature: Tide tracking for over 200 beaches worldwide.

Purchase: $140

Rip Curl Rifles

As a brand that needs no introduction, Rip Curl’s been in the surf watch game for some time now with their Rifles watch serving as a turning point in modern surf watch design and functionality. For instance, this model comes pre-programmed with 500 tide locations presented in either a graph or detailed display, a menu-based interface for easy navigation, a stopwatch, countdown timer, and alarm to ensure you’re out of the water and back at the office in time. Complete with an old-school look, this is sure to be a hit with any fans of more retro-inspired watch designs.

Size: 42mm
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Key Feature: 500 pre-programmed tide locations.

Purchase: $223

Best Surf Instagram Accounts

For some additional envy while at the office, be sure to check out these 12 best surf Instagram accounts to peruse in your free time.

Nixon Ultratide

Powered by surf forecasting powerhouse Surfline, Nixon’s Ultratide is the world’s first real-time surf conditions watch. Meaning, after extensive research and development, the Ultratide taps into Surfline’s networks of surf reporting and forecasting thus presenting accurate swell size and conditions for thousands of spots worldwide. Additionally, you’ll have access to swell direction, wind direction and speed, along with water and air temperatures. The Ultratide also geolocates you current position providing all these pertinent details for the surf spot nearest your actual location at all times. Additional features include custom surf alerts so you’ll always be in the know when it’s firing, and the ability to share your sessions with friends thanks to the iOs-compatible Ultratide app.

Size: 45mm
Water Resistance: 100 meter
Key Feature: Syncs w/ Surfline to provide data & forecasts for thousands of spots.

Purchase: $225

Rip Curl Search GPS

No secrets here. In addition to the slightly older Rifles model, the relatively new Search GPS Watch boasts a handful of upgrades that make this watch a one of a kind option for surfers interested in tracking their sessions on a whole new level. For instance, the Search will register your top speed, distance traveled throughout the session and even your wave count. From here, after each surf, sync up this captured data with the RipCurl SearchGPS App that lay out the day’s session via image sharing and graphic charts. The Search also features a 10-hour battery life in GPS mode, six months of regular use between charges, and is waterproof up to 100 meters.

Size: 44mm
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Key Feature: Tracks entire session with built-in GPS.

Purchase: $389

Nixon Mission

A fan of both the surf and snow? Thankfully Nixon’s new Mission Watch is suited to provide accurate data for both mediums. In this instance, the Mission is powered by Google’s Android Wear – also working in conjunction with Surfline and Snocountry – to keep you up to date on with real-time surf and snow alerts right from your wrist. Additionally, each Mission Watch comes equipped with the latest in water-resistant technology including a custom-molded case made from polycarbonate and stainless steel, and a 316L grade stainless steel bezel that functions as a roll cage. It’s also compatible with both iOs and Android smartphones, and even customizable for those interested in setting themselves apart from the fray.

Size: 48mm
Water Resistance: 200 meters
Key Feature: Provides real-time surf and snow updates.

Purchase: $390