Anyone who spends their time by the sea knows the difference tides make. It's not only about predicting when the fish will be biting, or when the waves will be best. The tides can also pose serious safety concerns because some areas are exposed during low tides, then cut off as the water rises.
Tide tables are useful, but can be awkward to read and it's all too easy to make a costly mistake. A tide clock is a simpler way of tracking tides so you can have fun and stay safe.
Scroll down to see the 8 best tide clocks on the market today.
The 8 Best Tide Clocks
Produced by well-known nautical decor specialists Nagina International, this 9" diameter time-and-tide clock is as functional as its details are attractive.
The round design and highly polished brass finish give a stunning look similar to more expensive nautical tide clocks, while the internal workings are all made in the USA to the highest standards.
This Nagina timepiece is calibrated to automatically track the tide in any ocean around the world, unlike many clocks which are limited to one area.
The display features half-tide markings as well as when the highest tides and lowest tides are, to help you get a more accurate estimate of tidal position at any time of day.
It's AA battery powered and all the fittings for wall mounting are included.
The front swings open using the brass catches, allowing the batteries to be changed or the time set without any need to remove the tide clock from the wall.
In terms of function, this beautiful wood-mounted brass tide clock uses the same high-quality Takane USA Tide Motor movement as the other Nagina International clock reviewed above.
This piece comes in a range of sizes from 10"-18" in diameter, with the inclusion of a turned mahogany base which has been varnished to give a rich, deep luster.
This tide clock is also a more slimline design compared to the brass porthole clock and will sit flatter to the wall as a result.
The brass hinge and catches are a design feature rather than a functional one. This tide clock hangs on a single hook and is easily taken down to make adjustments or replace the contents of the AA battery compartment.
However, the less secure hook-on fitment means it is much more suitable for beach home usage, rather than onboard a ship/boat.
The 6" diameter Tide Mate III is primarily a tabletop tide clock designed to provide the approximate number of hours to high tide on the incoming tide and low tide on the outgoing tide.
Based on the Atlantic lunar tide cycle, customers on the East coast of the USA will find the (1x) AA battery-powered quartz movement provides a fairly close estimate of the local tidal position.
However, this tide clock will not provide as good of an approximation for customers on the Pacific side of the USA as well as it will for their Atlantic coast counterparts due to variations in the relevant cycles.
The frame uses a modern, silver-effect acrylic case around the attractive blue face.
The use of plastic may render it more prone to damage than metal tide clock designs but this is easily avoided since the included velcro strap fitting allows the clock to be secured to a surface for safe use on ships.
Made in Canada using an American tide motor, the 10" Triintec Atlantic Time and Tide Indicator is housed in an injection-molded high-impact styrene casing with a scratch-resistant lens.
The black design features bold white markings with an attractive compass-rose-inspired central pattern.
The clockwise turning tide motor is similar to that used in the Tide Mate III, based on the same Atlantic lunar tide cycle.
This means either clock is great for use on the East Coast but won't be reliable for the Pacific Northwest, for example.
There are also issues with using these simpler mechanisms in the Gulf of Mexico, as the surrounding landmasses affect the timing of the tides significantly.
Overall, the Triintec tide clock is a great buy for any boat owners or fishermen living in a suitable area and looking for a budget tide clock that still works well.
Northcore has used natural materials to create this beautiful tide clock.
The hours to high and low tides, company logo, and wave design are all laser-etched onto the 9.84"x9.84" (25x25cm) square face, while the single hand makes reading the dial simple even from a distance.
Manually setting the tide clock is simple. Just use a local tide chart (paper or online version) to calibrate the high or low tide mark and you're good to go.
Some customers have reported that the 12-hour 25-minute cycle isn't quite ideal for long-term accuracy (depending on their location) and the tide clock needs to be adjusted regularly.
However, this shouldn't prove a major inconvenience to recreational users and the mechanism itself does seem to keep functioning well for a considerable length of time (as long as the AA battery gets replaced when necessary).
This Northcore offering is definitely one of the more attractive tide clocks I've reviewed and will look great anywhere in the home.
The Schelling Corporation has been making tide clocks since the early 1970s and the Classic Tide Timer Clock revisits one of their earliest designs.
The 6" square acrylic face can be stand or wall-mounted and features a retro blue and white printed graphic.
One feature I really like with this particular tide clock is the tide hour hand itself, a large red circle on the end makes estimating the state of the tide easy, regardless of how far away you're standing.
As with many other nautical tide clocks, the mechanism is based on Atlantic tide times. That said, Schelling Corporation also provides settings tables for adjustment to tide cycles in other areas.
The Georgetown Pottery company is renowned for the beauty of its handcrafted fine porcelain products and this stunning ceramic tide clock is certainly no exception. The 7.5" diameter face uses a wave motif (available in Ivory Wave and Purple Wave editions) and a simple offset circle to indicate the state and direction of the tides.
High tide is at the top point and low tide is indicated by the hand reaching the bottom.
Tide clocks were one of Georgetown Pottery's earliest products and for one simple reason.
The proprietor of the company, being an avid lifelong fisherman, frequently went fishing during his lunch break and insisted on always knowing the best time to do so.
These clocks feature a similar mechanism to the others I've reviewed in a similar price bracket, so feel free to shop based on looks without an undue sacrifice in functionality.
Featuring a fun ship design, this customizable tide clock is available in any diameter from 10" to 23" and with several different colors of hands.
Handcrafted in the USA to order, it would make a great gift for any sailor or surfer without breaking the bank.
As with any (non-automated) tide clock, this product from Time Flies Clocks will need to be reset occasionally depending on the user's location.
The manufacturers recommend doing so during either the full or new moon, as other variables have less effect on the tide times at these stages of the lunar cycle.
Make sure you check your customization options at the checkout.
How Does A Tide Clock Work?
Simple tide clocks work on a clockwork mechanism very similar to a normal timepiece. However, because the tides are mainly a result of gravitational forces between the Earth and the Moon, they use a lunar day of approximately 24hours 50minutes.
The position of the Sun in relation to the Moon affects both the height of the tide times, but the latter to a lesser extent. Due to the influence of the Sun, tide clocks are essentially providing an average and are most accurate during either a Full or New Moon.
Different oceans also have unique tidal patterns due to several factors. Mechanical tide clocks, therefore, tend to be relatively location-specific. Tables can be used to adjust the clock for a different area, while some tide clocks work with calibrated systems to automatically adjust their timings for different oceans and times of the month.
If you happen to be browsing gift ideas for the fishing or surfing enthusiast of the family, watches that show the tide are also handy. Feel free to check out our best tide watches article.