Timing the Tide: The Ultimate Guide to Tide Watches & How They Work

Tides are a result of the moon’s gravitational pull — a pull also felt by many active outdoorsmen and women who are drawn to time spent on the water. But, because the earth rotates, the tides aren’t consistent from one day to the next — requiring outdoorsmen and women to stay on their toes.

And as any coastal angler knows, the tide dictates how a day on the water will unfold. Tides affect more than just how easy it is to park the boat — nearly everything about the experience depends on the tide in one way or another.

For example, the feeding times for fish largely revolve around the tidal cycle. Baitfish tend to come with an incoming tide, searching for food among the flats, under rocks and around jetties. Following them a little later on are the bigger fish, who hunt as the falling tide forces bait seaward and into the mouths of rivers and tidal pools.  

how do tide watches work

Then, there’s the current to consider — something that can also be impacted by the tide, wind or even waters pushing against one another. Fish, like humans on a lazy Sunday, strive to conserve as much energy as possible, meaning they’ll most often swim in movement with the water instead of fighting against it. Letting the tide lead the way on any fishing excursion is a smart move in coastal waters.

Of course, the tide affects more than just fishermensurfers, saltwater duck hunters and other outdoorsmen find it helpful to keep an eye on it. It’s important to go with the flow, and to have technology that can help with keeping track of the tide.


How do tide watches work?

The mechanics behind how a tide watch works are sophisticated, but their purpose is simple: to accurately and clearly convey the ebb and flow of the ocean’s surface.

Hook+Gaff produces a durable, time-tested analog tide watch — the King Tide Watch. The King Tide differs from most other tide watches on the market in a number of ways, but the biggest is that the clock has an actual analog structure, versus having a digital tide indicator. We intentionally chose to use an analog tide watch movement so that it can be set for a precise location. For example, ours can be set exactly to Beaufort, Charleston, Georgetown and more — anywhere you happen to be fishing. Conversely, a digital tide watch typically just has major coastal cities plugged in — like maybe Charleston, Jacksonville and Wilmington. That simply isn’t helpful if you’re not in that location. Additionally, tides differ depending on how far up a tidal creek you may be residing or vacationing, and the analog option makes it easy to adjust.

how do tide watches work

As for how it technically works, the tide indicator is a single hand that completes a full, 360-degree rotation in 12 hours and 24 minutes — the average time it takes to complete half of a tide cycle. High tide occurs when the tide indicator is at the 12 o’ clock position. The tide then ebbs as the hand makes its way to the 6 o’ clock position, and flows as the hand makes its way back up and around to the top again.

Unlike digital tide watches, our analog tide indicator allows you to set for the local tide in any location on earth — a handy option that’s adjustable if you change locations.


How to Set a Tide Watch

On the King Tide Watch, it’s easy to set your tide indicator. To do so, just push the button located above the crown and hold it down for about three seconds until it beeps. Then, release it and immediately press again. As you do that, you’ll notice the tide indicator start to sweep along in a clockwise direction. Simply release the push button when the red hand reaches the correct current tide in your location. After three seconds, the watch will beep again, signaling that the tide indicator is set.


How to Read a Tide Watch

Our analog tide indicator on the King Tide watch simply lists the tide condition around the perimeter of the watch face, to which the red hand points. For example, high tide aligns with 12:00 on the watch face and low tide is at 6:00. Between 12:00 and 6:00 on the right side is "falling," and between 6:00 and 12:00 on the left side is "rising."

how to read a tide watch

This sport watch’s rugged durability stands up to even the toughest saltwater conditions, and its sleek design won’t look out of place after you shower and head downtown to dinner.

And, the King Tide is available with a variety of leather, rubber and woven strap options. You can also choose from a white dial, blue dial, or gray dial. Shop now and discover a strap/watch combination that suits your taste.

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