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20 of the Best Watches for Surfing in 2024

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I went surfing once. It was at Big Bay, Cape Town, South Africa. It was six a.m., cold and dark, but there were some teenagers in the water, so it all seemed okay.

After we got out, the young boy came to me and asked, ‘Dude, did you see it?!’ ‘See what?’ I replied. Later that day, it was published on Facebook (with a lovely yet spine-chilling photo) that we had surfed with a great white shark – it was just a wee baby, but still!

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Cape Town Surfing South Africa – Image Source: Surfer.com

Regardless, I have always loved surfing, even though trying to nose-dive with a 7ft minimal is impossible.

So, with that in mind, what makes for a good surf watch? Colour? Heritage? Durability? Or screw it all, whatever is the most expensive?

Well, that’s what we’re here to settle today, to decide what are the best watches for surfing. We won’t necessarily be going by some metric, these are all just cool watches that’ll look and perform great in the water. 

#1: The Casio Duro

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Let’s get this out of the way real quickly. The Casio Duro is a legend in the watch world for its ability to deliver on several fronts without cutting any corners.

Priced at below $100 and with the ability to withstand… almost anything, you cannot go wrong with this watch. It has the ability to tell time… And that’s about it.

This is the perfect surf watch if you just grabbed your board and went for it. No need to think about it, you just slap it on your wrist, and off you go.

The Duro comes in several different colours, presented on the dial and the bezel. What’s more, it’s offered on a rubber strap, making it perfect to wear while in the water.

Once you’re out and going back home, you can easily swap in your metal bracelet and boom – regular watch!

Featuring a unidirectional dive bezel and a water resistance of 200m, the Duro is really the best ‘beater’ surf watch money can buy.

#2: The Breitling Endurance Pro Chronograph Quartz

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Breitling is synonymous with flying and being tough in general, so it’s fitting that we’d see it on a list of the best watches for surfing. Starting at the top, the orange strap. It’s loud, it’s in your face, and it’s going to be visible to every single other surfer in the water.

This is a huge benefit, seeing as surfing into one another probably isn’t your goal, after all… Moving along, the watch features a quartz movement, meaning you need not worry about messing up your sophisticated Swiss mechanical movement.

The watch also features a stopwatch, allowing you to time wave intervals with ease. A large 44mm diameter ensures you are always going to have a detailed display of what’s going on, even though the dial is rather busy.

This durable watch is also a cheap watch compared to some other Breitling offerings, making it a great watch for your next surf session. 

#3: The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Skin Diver

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Okay, I’m going to have to include mechanical watches on this list. I know there is some danger regarding the movement being damaged which’ll only wreck your surf experience. I’m going to go ahead and assume you’re a world-class surfer and you never fall.

Anyway, Zodiac! Zodiac is well known in the diving world for making some interesting and rather important watches.

In recent years Zodiac has been making a comeback with some amazing watches, most perfectly suited for water sports.

The Super Sea Wolf Skin Diver is a 39mm steel watch on a rubber strap (win) featuring the STP 1-11 Swiss automatic movement and comes equipped with a 200m water resistance rating.

The elongated and sloped lugs allow the band to fit around your wetsuit perfectly, and at a price point of around $1,300, this is really a great way of reading the time while surfing. Again, you only get the time, you don’t even get the date.

The Skin Diver has been around now for 70 years and has stood the test of time, with previous models rising to immense popularity. If you’re keen on spending an extra $600 you can get the ‘Huckberry’ option, which comes with a ‘gold’ bezel and crown – neat.

#4: The Richard Mille RM 27-02 Rafael Nadal

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If you thought we were only going to cover cost-effective options and not those costing hundreds of thousands and also limited to 50 pieces, you were wrong.

Let’s be bold and include the RM 27-02, a watch ‘made for’ world-famous tennis player Rafael Nadal. What does Rafael and a surfer have in common?

Well, both are dealing with some pretty serious forces, and those forces will be carried into your watch movement.

Luckily Richard is a wizard with making watches safe to wear in extreme situations, so, the RM 27-02 features a Carbon TPT® unibody design along with skeletonized bridges also made from a single piece of NTPT Carbon; which is then directly integrated in the chassis.

Result? Well, the watch can resist shocks up to 5000g, which is certainly more than your best waves can conjure (don’t quote me). Price? Well, retail these went for 777.000 Euros with taxes, and on Chrono24… well, no one wants to say.

It is only water resistant to 50m, so, maybe don’t go too deep… 

#5: The Timex Waterbury Dive 41mm Synthetic Rubber Strap Watch

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So maybe you don’t have literal hundreds of thousands to spend on a watch. I understand. Let’s look at this Timex Waterbury Dive 41mm and just how amazing this thing actually looks?! I mean, this is a cost-effective IWC Aquatimer if I ever saw one!

Let’s go over the basics. Rubber strap, check. Internally rotating dive bezel, which improves safety? Check.

A thin 10mm profile? Yup. Mineral glass? You got it. And 100m of water resistance? Fantastic. This all for less than $200? No brainer.

Are the best surfers going to be wearing this? No, probably not, but that’s not the point. This is a great watch no matter what level of surfer you are—hell, it’s a great watch for anyone doing anything in the water! 

#6: The Oris Aquis

 

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If you’re not a ‘watch person’ then these names might sound odd to you, but let me assure you that the Aquis is one of the coolest water-themed watches there is.

It doesn’t really have surf-specific features but it has a ton of features that will meet the different needs of those looking to go in the water.

Firstly, it looks awesome. Besides some vintage Submariners, there really isn’t another diver on the market that just looks this… yes. You look at it and just go, ‘Yes’.

These come with a ton of different dial options, and the one I would suggest is the ‘Ocean Trilogy’ variation, which features a deep blue dial reminiscent of your favorite place.

There is even a GMT option nicknamed the ‘Whale Shark’ due to its textured dial that looks like the skin of a whale shark.

These come in various sizes as well (36.5mm, 39.5mm, and 43.5m) meaning there is an option for you, your friend, your missus, and just about everyone at your favourite surf spot.

This is also a watch that you can take the strap off and equip the bracelet, and boom – daily wear. I think it’s pretty cool that you can take that piece of the ocean with you to the office.

#7: The G-SHOCK MENS 200M G-LIDE – GBX-100-2DR

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What a sexy name. Tells you… absolutely nothing. So, allow me to tell you about this surf-specific watch. Yes, finally, a watch made for surfers! First, it’s a Casio G-Shock. In case you are not familiar with these, they never break, and everyone loves them.

The latter is the law, you cannot disagree, and if you do then every watch enthusiast alive will hunt you down. You have been warned.

It would therefore be a good idea to actually give this watch a try, and with unique features like a high and low tide times and levels indicator.

What’s more, it shows the tide graph, the moon data, and some pretty robust construction.

Along with with the digital display and immense reliability, this is the last thing you’ll ever need when considering watches for surfing – and it’s cheap too. Always a winner.  

#8: The IWC Aquatimer Automatic 42mm IW328802

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IWC isn’t exactly ‘known’ for water-themed watches as they are certainly more known for aviation-inspired watches such as the aptly named Big Pilot. 

The Aquatimer certainly deserves recognition purely based on how sturdy it is and how versatile it can be as well.

This version comes with a 42mm steel case and an automatic movement within, meaning you never need to worry about your battery running out.

What’s more, it features a 300 m water resistance rating which is way more than you’ll ever need in the ocean or in day-to-day use.

It does feature some useful features like an internally rotating bezel, which means your bezel is safe and won’t get in the way. It also displays the date at 3 o’clock.

It comes in black and blue, in case you want both… I would. 

#9: The Sinn T50

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Sinn. If you know them, you know they mean one thing, and that’s business. If you don’t know them, Sinn isn’t here to play games.

They’ll be comfortable in space, at extreme sports, and even in space (Google it). The Sinn T50 is a rather robust model, starting out strong with about as much water resistance as you could ever need – 500m.

This comes courtesy of a titanium construction, which also means the watch is remarkably light on the wrist and won’t really impact your surfing style at all.

The dial has a ton of real estate with extremely visible hour markers and hands, which is brilliant on some poor-sighted occasions.

Sinn is also known for producing cases (and bracelets) that are extremely tough, standing up against giants like Rolex with ease. 

This is the kind of watch technology that makes the difference for a surfer. 

#10: The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver 15707CB 

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We’re back on the silly train again with a Ceramic Audemars. If I were a millionaire surfer, I’d rock one of these.

Firstly, a white strap with a white ceramic case and a white dial, blue hands and accents on said dial, and the classic Royal Oak shape. I’m sold.

Obviously, this is a bit of a silly nomination, seeing as this discontinued Offshore costs $63,999 on the second-hand market, but it’s still fun to dream.

It’s got a very sleek design even when considering the 42mm size, and let’s face it, there are some billionaire playboys who want to wear an AP while in the water. Here you go.

#11: The Garmin Instinct® Solar – Surf Edition 

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Let’s clap back to reality with this Garmin priced at a humble $400 – $500 and will realistically be far more useful as an actual surf watch.

You’re still presented with a rubber strap, but that is where the similarities end. The Garmin is electronic and will require charging from time to time, but grants you just about every feature you’ll ever need.

Step tracking, all-day stress, GPS, thermometer, Bluetooth connectivity, the ability to read text messages, controlling your phone’s music, gym tracking, swim tracking, heart rate data, sun and moon information, tide info, storm alerts, and, of course, the time.

This is probably the best on the list for surf tracking, but I didn’t want to put it too early on the list.

These come in more colours to list, but they all look stunning – while surfing.

If you’re looking for a watch with the perfect duality of sport and everyday usage, this ain’t it, I’m sorry.

Unless you work a hands-on job, there is no way this looks good with a suit or any kind of formal attire. 

#11: The Tudor Pelagos FXD 42mm 

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You (probably) knew it was coming. The Pelagos is best thing to come from Tudor for water enthusiasts since the original Submariner.

The FXD dials this up to 11 with the addition of a NATO strap, which is infinately better for surfing. What’s more, with a 42mm size the Pelagos is certainly going to be visible but not imposing on your wrist.

This is an important metric as you don’t want something overbearing or getting in your way.

The extended lugs will make fitting over a wetsuit easy as well, and the titanium construction will ensure the watch remains light on your wrist. Sure, this one won’t give you tide data.

Or a countdown timer. Or water temperature. But is still extremely robust, and Tudor is known for making some really robust pieces overall.

Their stainless steel models are known for lasting extremely long if you take care of ’em, and this titanium version will be no different. 

#12: The Omega Seamaster Diver 300 M Professional Quartz 41mm 2541.80

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That’s a mouthful, and it’s a hell of a watch, lemme tell you that. When this watch was introduced it made big waves in the industry, excuse the pun.

This Seamaster combined all the things we loved about previous Seamaster Professionals and dialed it up to 11.

Firstly, the aesthetics are still visible in the current version, such as the wave pattern, the jagged bezel, and the instantly recognizable bracelet design.

This elegant yet rugged design is what we expect from the Seamaster now, and it fits perfectly with the surfer lifestyle.

This watch didn’t really come on a strap, so, that might be an additional purchase you need to make.

That said, you get 300m of water resistance, a reliable Omega quartz movement within, and a watch that can be worn on a daily basis as well. Great options of these are available for a reasonable amount on Chrono24.

#13: The Seiko Prospex ‘Save the Ocean’ Limited Edition Diver SPB297

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Boy, this is something special. Seiko is one of the best-known brands when it comes to divers, and the Prospex line is one of their best yet. Dive watches have a lot in common with ‘surf watches’, and so, this 200m waterproof diver is everything you’ll need.

Constructed from steel on a steel bracelet (you’ll need a rubber strap) with an absolutely gorgeous blue dial reminiscent of the water in your surf sessions.

You get a date aperture at the 3 o’clock position with a lack of cyclops, and a unidirectional 60-minute rotating bezel.

In essence, everything you could need from a surf watch that also has the ability to be worn daily. What’s more, this is the limited ‘Save the Ocean’ edition, meaning some of the money you spend on it will actually go to oceanic preservation.

Timekeeping duties are dealt with by the 6R35 movement, and in-house movement from Seiko themselves, ensuring this watch is as pure as the blue of the ocean. 

#14: The Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms Pacific Ocean Yellow

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Controversial? Maybe. Works? If you think about it… absolutely. Swatch is another giant in the watch industry, but unlike other giants, they are affordable.

They have recently started ‘collaborating’ with brands to produce some novel pieces, such as the MoonSwatch and the Scuba Fifty Fathoms.

The latter is a collab with Blancpain, a legendary company that hardly needs an introduction, but in a nickel, they are one of the most recognizable brands when it comes to dive watches.

In fact, the ‘real’ Fifty Fathoms was introduced before the legendary Submariner, which to some makes Blancpain a better choice.

This watch isn’t that, but it is a very cost-effective homage. It’s made from yellow-orange Bioceramic and has a water resistance rating of 91m. It does feature a mechanical movement within, the SISTEM51 to be exact.

Overall, a fun and quirky watch that is certainly cheaper than others on this list – perhaps the perfect gift to first-time surfers.

#15: The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph

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Battery life will always be an issue when thinking of quartz movements, and mechanical movements cannot deal with severe impacts.

If my memory of surfing serves me well, there is a ton of the latter. Solution? Opt for a watch that uses solar energy as its own energy.

If only there was a watch capable of doing that while also having good water resistance and has the looks to be worn on a daily basis.

If it were made in a lighter material like titanium that’d just sweeten the deal, as swinging your arms to swim up and down can become exhausting pretty quickly.

Well, wouldn’t you know, TAG Heuer is here to answer our prayers!

The Aquaracer line is as reliable and trusted in the watch world as can be, and the Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph is a great option for those looking to catch a few waves.

This might be off the beaten track, especially when TAG does have a host of great smartwatches that could fit the bill, but with the solar capacity and the looks (and the amazing bracelet), you certainly cannot go wrong here.

#16: The Panerai Submersible PAM 1055

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If you think ‘tough watch’ you initially think of G-SHOCK. And then you think of Panerai. Since we already have a G-SHOCK on the list I guess it’s time we submit a PAM.

The PAM 1055 is about as standard of a Submersible as you can get. The Submersible is the dive-oriented watch within the Panerai lineup, and boy is it robust.

First, it comes on a stellar rubber strap and I’m sure you’ll be able to find extensions for your suit if you need it.

What’s more, the case is large – it’s 42mm, allowing the beast to have a 300m water resistance rating.

This combined with the thick bezel and protected guard around the crown makes this a watch that’ll probably withstand a smash against a rock. Or a seal. Or whatever you can throw at it.

Panerai is known for being reliable and rugged. To top things off, with enormous hands and hour markers, you’ll never misread the time—ever. 

#17: The Doxa Sub 600T Professional

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We really couldn’t make a list of aqua-themed watches without including Doxa.

In case you do not know, Doxa is a giant in the world of dive watches with legends like the SUB300T and many others.

These were worn by divers throughout the years, and especially by those doing deep water diving, meaning they needed a unit of a watch.

So, it’s only fitting that you get your own, right? I recommend the 600T for a few reasons.

Number one, like all the other Doxa watches you can get this in various colors including Aquamarine, a beautiful light blue that’ll help you stand out in the crowd (comes with a blue rubber strap too!).

Two, it comes with the crown discreetly located at the four o’clock position, which could make any and all movements a lot easier.

Lastly, 600m of water resistance (overkill), sub $1500 price (if you look hard enough), the Sellita SW 200-1 movement providing 38 hours of power reserve (could be better), and wearing dimensions that are certainly not bad (40mm diameter and 47.6mm lug-to-lug).

This is a fun option and one that does make a lot sense, with all the colors you can certainly find something that suits your style. 

#18: The Rolex Yacht-Master 40 126622

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The Crown deserves to be on this list. Let’s face it, they are the most influential brand on the planet.

I didn’t want to go the expected route with the Submariner and opted with the Yacht-Master, especially the deep blue dial as it’s rather fitting with the deep ocean blue.

As the name suggests, you get a 40mm steel case and the 3235 movement, the latter of which is extremely reliable and has been tried and tested.

This version doesn’t come with a rubber strap from the factory, so, you will probably need to purchase a rubber strap and an extension before you go riding.

That said, the watch will look grand everywhere else in the world, I mean, it is still a Rolex.

The sandblasted dive bezel does give a lovely contrast to the polished nature of the rest of the case. 

#19: The Ulysse Nardin Maxi Marine Diver 263-33-3/92

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Ulysse Nardin is a brand known for making quirky designs. Nothing is out of order, in fact, their most popular watch is called the Freak. Go ahead, Google it, I’ll wait… IT LOOKS AWESOME, RIGHT?

Well, despite looking cool, it wouldn’t be great for diving seeing as it is certainly taking form over function.

So, if you wanna stay with the brand, might I consider the Maxi Marine Diver, and it still looks quite interesting. Fitting. A deep black dial with several red accents creates a dial that is extremely legible.

Thanks to robust building techniques you are presented with 300m of water resistance, again, more than you’ll ever need while surfing.

And to top things off you have a power reserve indicator on the dial. This will show you how much of the power reserve is left wound up in the mechanical movement, a nifty little indicator to have if you have a collection of watches. 

#20: The Panerai Luminor 1950 Rattrapante PAM00213

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Another PAM? Really? Really. See, I do like Panerai, I do. I might not like all of their designs, and even this one isn’t my favorite by any margin of the imagination.

It isn’t a digital surf watch, it won’t show you your surf session statistics, or give you the forecast, and you will barely be able to pull this off in a ‘normal’ setting – it’s a big yoke, 44mm with a 17mm thickness.

Why this rather impressive thickness you might ask?

Well, the movement within is something special. See, the movement within is known as a Rattrapante chronograph, meaning there isn’t just one chronograph function, but you have the added bonus of a second one as well.

This is something that might be useful in a surfing environment to time different waves or even different sets.

Furthermore, you get the crown guard that we’ve seen earlier on the list meaning you can surf without worrying about your crown being messed up.

It’s not a dive watch, but still features a 100m water resistance rating which’ll be more than enough for any surf session.

These are typically presented with a leather strap, but Panerai has a huge market to support your strap needs, meaning it’ll be extremely easy for you to find a rubber strap to suit your surfing needs. 

Choosing the Right Watch

There are several things you’ll need to take into account before pulling the trigger on one of these watches.

You will need to think about things you didn’t even realize will influence your decision, but when you’re spending >$1,000 on a watch I deem it necessary. 

1. What type of watch it is?

 Mechanical or Quartz. Well, the latter functions via a quartz crystal and electricity, whereas the former works with a set of complex gears and levers all working in tandem with one another to make your watch work.

The latter is more robust when looking at withstanding G’s or impact, hence why something the aforementioned Richard Mille was specifically designed to withstand the swings of a tennis player.

Most of these watches should be able to withstand the bouts of the water, however, if you are surfing in massive waves (of if you’re prone to falling like me) then you might want to make sure the watch you’re wearing is actually capable of withstanding these impacts… 

2. Size and Wearing Dimensions

I mentioned the size of several of the watches on this list, but there is more to a watch than just the diameter.

You will need to consider something like the lug-to-lug when purchasing your watch, seeing as it has to go over your wetsuit.

What is also worth considering is the leg width, which will make purchasing straps either extremely easy or unbearingly hard.

Lastly, a thicker watch is going to get more bangs and bruises, that’s just a fact. So, opting for a thinner watch would be better, however, thinner watches are sometimes less robust. Choose wisely. 

3. Function

What are your needs in the water?

Are you a very tech-driven person who needs the tide predictions and a full surf report before even getting ready? Are you more of a ‘slap it on and go’ type of surfer?

The watch should fit this part of your lifestyle seamlessly, as there are watches that give you all sorts of information, whereas others are simply there to tell you the time… and that’s about it.

The latter might be a lot more expensive as these are typically mechanical watches, and the former are typically smartwatches.

The former does have more function, potentially something you might need. That said, a chronograph (even a stopwatch) might be all you really need at the end of the day.

4. Usability

Wanna wear your watch out of the water? Well, it better be able to look good on a non-rubber strap.

It should be somewhat adequately sized, and it surely has to be able to suit your daily needs. I love function watches, watches made for one job and one job only.

They’re amazing, titans in the flesh – or metal. But they do have limitations, and the limitation is that you won’t always be able to wear them on a normal day.

Of course, that means you might need two watches… But hey, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Go hit some waves.

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