Meet the Freestyle MacDaddy ($70 list), a hunk of a salt-water-resistant watch designed to appeal to surfers and boogie boarders. We'd wear it while catching a wave, though its unique split-screen design won't appeal to everyone. If you're looking for a timepiece to don while you try to improve your times in the pool, take a pass on this one. Its heft will weigh you down, and it lacks the timing functions that would be most useful to swimmers.
The MacDaddy is designed to withstand repeated exposure to water; it has a salt-water-resistant polyurethane band, a watertight casing, and stainless steel controls. This watch weighs 3.7 ounces; big guys might like its heft, but others, especially MacMammas, will probably find it burdensome (the watch does come in a petite version, the Mini Mac). We also had a hard time getting used to the MacDaddy's dual screens. Figuring out how to set the time and date was much harder than it should have been, and the split face repeatedly confused us. The manual, a one-page PDF file, could have been more helpful. Still, if you can get used to it, the double design can come in handy, especially when you're using it as a stopwatch.
Compared to some of the other multifunction models we've tested, the MacDaddy doesn't offer a lot. You can keep an eye on two time zones (a nice use of the split screen); engage the chronograph mode to, say, time laps from the shore and back again; and use the countdown timer when you're competing with a buddy to catch a wave. It also has a flashing alarm and a backlit screen. Freestyle offers a generous 10-year warranty, but getting your watch serviced over its lifetime is a bit of a pain. If you haven't tossed the sales receipt, you'll have to mail it in, along with $8.50 for shipping and handling.
Overall, this is a cool option if you're looking for a tough timepiece that can withstand repeated wipeouts. We're not totally sold on its funky split-screen design and could do without the heft, but the MacDaddy's unique, waterproof style may be a hit with the beach crowd. It comes in five different colors, from a hang-loose orange to a sleek black.