For surfers, waterproof watches are just the start

To mark a good surf session, nature must cooperate: wind and swell direction, tides, wave height and conditions. Many surfers follow this data with pinpoint accuracy using weather modeling and forecasting applications such as Surfline, Magicseaweed and Windy.

While watch houses and surf companies like Rip Curl, Freestyle, and Casio have sold simple waterproof watches that track sunrises, sunsets, and tides for years, lifestyle and tech brands Nixon and Garmin this spring released two surf watches that are workhorses and oceanic encyclopedias for the wrist.

With an 8 millimeter Stainless steel case, the Heat, which costs $ 150, came out in April and is Nixon’s thinnest surf watch.

“This watch was about problem solving,” said Joe Babcock, director of product design at Nixon. “We wanted it as thin as possible – it’s 7 millimeters thinner than Nixon’s latest technical surf watch – without sacrificing what’s most important to surfers: a timepiece that can take an ensemble out of the box. head thanks to the case which acts as a safety cage on a 4×4 Truck, protecting the watch from bumps in the ocean but with an intuitive user interface.

The customized digital LCD display module includes a chronograph and preset timers with a final countdown known as the 60 second “send” notification, “so you can send it on your last. wave in competition or out of competition, “Babcock said. , referring to paddling and riding a wave with determination.

The High Tide ($ 220), a larger Nixon watch with features including 550 pre-programmed locations with tide, sun and moon data, was released in November. As well as being the first Nixon watch made from recycled ocean plastics, the High Tide is also the only Nixon watch to use higher contrast, higher resolution MLCD technology in the display.

“We know who our customer is, we are part of their tribe,” Mr. Babcock said, “and we made these watches for occasions and to create emotions. Our goal is to serve a specific vacancy in the lives of our consumers.

Cindy Good, 67, a former pharmacy supervisor, has been surfing the beach in Garden City, SC for 19 years and says she absolutely relies on one of her five Nixon watches to provide tide information for its local surf spot.

“I bought my first Nixon 20 years ago and have had one on my wrist ever since,” Ms. Good said. Her current favorite is a bright orange Base Tide, an older version of the Base Tide Pro ($ 150). In addition to checking the tides daily, Ms Good is preparing for a surfing contest in July and plans to use the countdown timer and alarms to practice for her 15 minutes of heat.

Known primarily as a surf forecaster, Surfline operates high definition live cameras at over 700 beaches around the world. For its premium subscribers, the Huntington Beach, California-based company also offers Surfline sessions, which create a video of waves being surfed in front of a Surfline camera.

For Garmin d’Olathe, Kan., The idea of ​​creating a watch specifically aimed at every aspect of surfing, including tracking wave count and surf time, and forming a partnership with Surfline Sessions, seemed a bit foreign. “It’s hard to develop surf technology in middle of Kansas,” said Audra Ratliff, product marketing manager for Garmin, “but the surf stood out. These are new metrics for us, a new algorithm, but we wanted to show our commitment to this market. ”

Beginning in late 2018, Garmin began creating an activity profile for surfing, presenting its first watches capable of surfing in summer 2020 with the Instinct Solar Surf Edition ($ 375) and the Fenix. 6 ($ 450). In May, the Descent Mk2S ($ 1,000) debuted with surf features, optical heart rate, and all-day breathing.

“We had to develop the surf activity profile from scratch,” Ms. Ratliff said. “We had over 30 sports apps, but there was nothing to count waves or that kind of movement,” she said, adding, “but it’s an important activity that our customers kept doing. save, so we decided to go. “

Julia Parish, 42, an invasive species biologist and surfer from San Diego, says the Garmin Instinct Solar Surf lives on her arm. She previously owned a Rip Curl surf watch and will occasionally wear her Nixon Siren “like a dress watch I can take to surf”.

But it’s Instinct that “is my favorite,” she said. “I’m super excited about the surf tracking, that’s one of the key factors I got this model for. Plus, I can charge it using the sun, and it has the phases of the moon, which is really useful for tide information.

Some companies, like Dawn Patrol, have chosen to skip the hardware and logistics of building a watch and go straight into software development. Using the Apple Watch (from $ 399) as a timepiece, Anton Bremer of Cornwall, England, managing director and founder of Dawn Patrol, began designing ‘Strava for surfing’ in 2016, he said. he stated, referring to the exercise application.

“It documents every data of your navigation,” he said. “Our users speak of it as a tool for improvement and training. Shortboarders focus on trying to achieve a certain level of speed, for example, in addition to analyzing and replaying waves, ”due to Dawn Patrol’s partnership with Surfline Sessions.

“An application is a bit like a house; it’s never over, ”said Bremer. “We are always improving. For example, the most requested feature at this point is distance traveled and paddle strokes, so we’re working on that. “

Dawn Patrol’s 50,000 active users come from 138 countries, he said, including Jessica Wendland of Los Angeles, who downloaded the app two months ago. Ms. Wendland, 33, a hairstylist, has been surfing since the age of 11 and initially downloaded the app to track her calories per session.

“There are a lot of features and so many cool things I can do,” she said. “I’m counting my waves and watching my speed, and if I’m partying with someone, I’m definitely going to log into Surfline Sessions and watch the replay. Sometimes when I’m surfing I think to myself, “You should paddle faster now, maybe burn more calories and surf harder. “

Mr. Bremer would be happy to hear it. “This is an app designed for surfers by surfers to use as a way to keep improving and pushing our surfing,” he said.

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About Robert L. Thomas

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