As much as the allure of a surfer’s lifestyle taunts me on a daily basis… my extracurricular activities are sadly limited, and tossing my worldly woes into that big, bad beautiful blue sea will be left to others.  But wait… just because I don’t surf doesn’t mean that many of our loyal readers don’t!  So, when the opportunity to review a potentially amazing piece of surf-tech came up, we had to answer… enter: the DonkeyFish.  A good friend to the WGUB, and a man devoted to all things surf.  Few know their way around a board n’ wave quite like DF.  So I gave him today’s sweet gear… and here are his thoughts…


A watch that can tell the tide?  Who in the heck needs one of those?  Well, for your information, sailors, clam diggers and surfers, that’s who!  And while I can proudly brag I’ve done all three, surfing is the only activity I have done more than once.  In fact, my life revolves around surfing, so it makes perfect sense for me to package the time and tide together around my wrist.


Over the years I have owned three different tide watches and have found problems with all three:

  • Rip Curl’s Tidemaster was a pretty watch, but I couldn’t figure out what the moonphase and other dials did, and it always seemed to be off on the tide prediction.
  • Shark’s Tide 3.0 ($90) had nice functionality, but I broke three of them before I finally called it quits.
  • Nixon’s Lowdown ($125 and my current watch).  I’ve been generally happy with the Lowdown, but there were a few features that I often found myself saying “if only Nixon would have done this…” 
  • Enter Nixon’s Supertide ($200).  It was if Nixon knew exactly what my complaints with the Lowdown were.  They even thought of a few improvements that hadn’t occurred to me.  Maybe that’s why I don’t make watches for a living.

Here are the improvements:

  1. Less buttons.  Three to be exact, and they somehow manage to do everything you need the watch to do.
  2. Actual time and tide height predictions on the screen.  You are just one click away from knowing the time and height of the next for low/high tides.
  3. Higher screen resolution, which allows the Supertide to display the tide fonts on the screen in a very clear format.

Side by side of the Lowdown (left) and Supertide (right). You can see the size difference and increased visibility of the Supertide from the high-resolution screen.

New features:

  1. The tidal graph represents daytime with light graphics and night with a black screen.  Since you cannot surf in the dark this makes total sense and helps you figure out what the tides are doing during the day and the next day.
  2. A sunrise and sunset screen.  This is simply brilliant, and I love it for two reasons.  Since I work during the day, I really only have two options to surf: before or after work.  Knowing when the sun rises helps me set the alarm so I maximize my surf before work.  Maybe their next version will have a feature where you can press a button and have the watch’s alarm sync with the sunrise!  As for the sunset information, I can now, after receiving 30 text messages at work from friends letting me know how good the surf is, rush home and negotiate with the wife for an evening surf session.  When she asks when I will be back, I can click the sunrise/sunset feature up on the watch and show her when the sun sets.  WA LA!  Now, just like when your mom used to say you had to return home when the street lights came on, you have a clear time when you have to return from surfing.  Any surfer knows this is the #1 way to stay out of the doghouse.
  3. No stopwatch.  Yep, you heard me, no stopwatch.  I was confused at first too, but think about it, this is a surfing watch, not a jogging watch.

Improved tide feature of the watch. You can now easily see when low/high tide will be, and the light part of the graph represents daylight hours

Functionality – I’ve never been a fan of big watches, and the Supertide somehow pushes the limit without quite breaking it.   Let me just say I wouldn’t want the watch to be any larger.  The soft silicone band feels good, and I was able to get my wetsuit over the watch no problem.  In fact, the larger watch face seemed to help when I lifted my frozen fingers out of the 50 degree ocean and tried to pry the wetsuit sleeve up to check the time.  I was able to read the time no problem in the water, and the light was bright enough to read the time at night.

The Supertide under the wetsuit (top) and visible after pulling the sleeve to the side (bottom)

Screen Modes:

The normal screen has the day, month/year, time and graphical representation of the tide for what appears to be about a 30 hour period.

  • Click 1 – Enlarges the tidal graph and shows the time and height of the next four high/low tides.  The time and date remain on the screen.
  • Click 2 – Shows the sunrise & sunset times.
  • Click 3 – Is a countdown timer for surf contest heats.
  • Click 4 – An alarm.

Final thoughts – When I opened the box, the bright white of the watch threw me off a bit.  I’m all about fashion, but I do work with elected officials on a regular basis and have to fight the surfer image as it is already.  Add a watch that sticks out like a sore thumb (what does that mean anyway?) and I’m gonna hear Spicoli jokes all day long.  Fortunately the watch also comes in black, green, blue and red, so there seems to be a choice for every taste.  This is the fourth Nixon watch I’ve worn over the years, and I have always appreciated Nixon’s ability to balance functionality and fashion.  For some reason, I always get compliments when I wear a Nixon, and imagine the compliments will come soon enough with this watch (remember it is bright white so people can’t miss it!!!)

Overall, the watch delivers as advertised and is priced competitively with other brands. If you are in the market for a tide watch, take the time to check out the Supertide.  If you cannot decide between the Lowdown and Supertide, spend the extra $75 bucks on the Supertide.  It is worth every penny.