At the beginning of the 20th century, solar watches was only found in fiction, like space travel. However, as humanity continues to push technology exponentially forward, it was only a matter of time until we could harness the power of the sun.
By the middle of the 20th century, watches, calculators and homes are now powered by the golden rays of the sun.
Since this is a watch blog, I’ll focus my review on the best solar watches and why you as a watch consumer or connoisseur should consider this particular watch type. Many of these solar watches are quality, and they’re eco-friendly like Original Grain watches.
WHAT ARE SOLAR WATCHES?
Watches that are partly or entirely powered by sunlight or man-made light are known as solar watches. These watches feature solar panel which captures light and uses it to power the watch. Solar wrist watches do not use any battery and do not even need daily winding.
When we talk about solar watches, many people think that these watches work only in the presence of sunlight. They totally miss the presence of solar panels that can store the solar energy and convert it into electrical energy to use it later.
This way the solar watches work both day and night. The rechargeable cells keep it working at night as well. Even the lithium-ion cells can keep the watches working for several months in the absence of sunlight. On the whole, solar watches are low maintenance and more reliable.
Solar watch and an atomic solar watch are two different terms. Though both the watches are powered by sunlight, there is a major difference in both of them. We set the time of solar watches manually whereas the atomic solar watches use radio signals to provide the time.
The radio signals are broadcasted from the atomic clock located at the Fort Collins, National Institute of Standards and Technology. The time provides by this institute in the most accurate in the world. Hence, the time provided by solar atomic watch is more accurate as compared to solar watches.
Solar watches come in different styles. Some are simple and can be picked up at your local Radioshack. Some solar watches are incorporated with gold, diamonds or many other expensive stones. Moreover, these watches are a perfect choice for sports enthusiasts and outdoor lovers.
POPULAR FEATURES FOUND IN SOLAR WATCHES
These are contemporarily designed watches with multiple functions. A few of them even feature thermometer, barometer and altimeter and compass.
Solar watches are highly durable. Their cases are made from stainless steel, titanium or hardened minerals.
The dial is designed with a blue grey tint to optimize maximum amount of sunlight.
These watches are water resistant up to 200 meter.
They feature times of multiple zones at a time.
In short, these watches satiate functionality with style.
PROS AND CONS OF SOLAR WATCHES
Here are things to consider when purchasing solar watches.
- The sustainable power of the solar watches is their major strength. They do not require any battery charging or winding and go on in a similar way for years.
- They have in built batteries that convert sunlight into electricity and store it to use in the future.
- Solar watches require minimal maintenance. The winding watches become tedious after regular usage and you get tired of using them. As long as you will provide them with light, they will keep track of time.
- Solar watches have large PV cells on their face which gives them an unpleasant appearance. No one would like to wear it with formals.
- If stored in dark for a year or so, the watch will stop working irrespective of its initial cost.
BEST SOLAR WATCHES BY BRAND
Most of the solar watches come from Asia, specifically in Japan. The Swiss tend to be focused on featuring the Swiss watch movement, and it was in Japan where the solar-powered watch gained momentum as a distinctive watch style.
There are some watches that must be a part of your collection. Casio watches are one of them. It’s no surprise that this brand has been featured multiple times in this blog. They are one of the core Japanese companies to pioneer the Japanese watch movement.
They produce high quality watches, like this quartz watch from Casio.
Casio is a worldwide popular brand which is known for its ecstatic collection. The collection starts from a minimal range of $50 and goes up to $1000.
On the basis of their features, utilization and monetary range, Casio watches are categorized into 6 major categories.
- Entry level watches: These digital, chronographic and simple quartz watches suits best to your pocket. The good quality, durable watches are available within a range of $100. Though the price of the watch is affordable but the quality of the watches is equally comparable.
- Casio G-shock and Baby-G: It is the most popular category of Casio watches. Available in a range of $55 to $850, these tough wrist wears are compact, sporty and fashionable. The watches are extremely durable and are available in different colors.
- Casio edifice: It is one of the best smart watches in the world. The stylish, chronographic watches are built in a brilliant way. This range of watches include some special edition too.
- Casio pro-trek: The range is designed for outdoor lovers and avid travelers. It is durable enough to withstand the best of time. The watches include thermometer, barometer, altimeter and digital compass.
- Casio wave captor: The wave captor watches are known for their accuracy. The ultra-accurate atomic system assures the accuracy of time.
- Casio premium: The premium variant of Casio edifice, Casio edifice has ultra-stylish looks and incredible features. This is the watch world craves for.
For a Casio solar watch, consider this Sport Combination Watch. This watch has a black strap and a black face. It has an analog style with a digital display. It’s perfect for the gym or for anyone with an active outdoor lifestyle.
Here’s what’s amazing about this watch:
It can last up to 10 months without exposure to sunlight!
Here are the main features of this watch:
- LED lighting with Afterglow and neo-bright luminous hands and markers
- Displays world time
- 5 daily alarms, hourly signal, and stopwatch capabilities
- Solar rechargeable battery
- 10 ATM rating
- Again – up to 10 months on full charge without further exposure to light!
This Casio watch appears to be a popular model in Amazon. It has garnered an average of 4.5 stars from over 1,800+ user reviews! It’s a quality Casio watch and the price can’t be beat.
Here’s another solar watch that’s worth considering: the G-Shock Stainless Watch. This particular watch is part of Casio’s world famous G-Shock line. It has an analog display, and looks “dressier” than the Sport Combination Watch.
It’s definitely a quality watch. One Amazon user noted how he’s used it for over 9 years. Moreover, he claims he’s never had to change the strap or the battery in the past 9 years! This model is slightly more expensive than the Sport Combination watch, but it appears to have a better build.
The main features of the watch include:
- Multi-Band Atomic timekeeping and shock resistant
- 20M ATM rating (good for up to 200 meters underwater!)
- 4 Daily alarms with stopwatch functionalities
- Battery power indicator and power saving function.
This particular watch has garnered an average of 4.5 stars from over 800+ customer reviews. It’s easily one of Casio’s most popular models.
If you’re in the hunt for a dress watch but powered by Solar, then take a look at the Lineage Model from Casio. Imported from Japan, this watch has a glossy band with a white face. It certainly has that “understated elegance” that you should look for when shopping for a dress watch.
Here are the main features of this Casio wristwatch:
- Anti-reflective coating sapphire glass
- 5 ATM rating
- Solar powered with stopwatch capabilities
- Full Auto Calendar
It has an average of five stars from about ten user reviews. Don’t be fooled by the lack of reviews. Many users love the style and quality of this watch. It’s pricier than the previously mentioned Casio watches, but it’s deserving of the premium.
Like Casio, Seiko has been reviewed extensively in this blog, and deservedly so. They are one of the pioneers of the quartz watch revolution that nearly upended the Swiss watch industry.
The Japanese brand is popular among the world as one of the fully integrated watch manufactures. The brand is revered as a standard-setter among all the watch enthusiasts.
Seiko watches are available with both quartz and analog movements and their looks are one of their own. Each Seiko model is unique in its own manner and has these key attributes.
Many of their popular watches are loaded with automatic winding feature. It saves your time and energy. Many watches display both day and date on the rear of time.
The watches possess a sharp and crisp visual impression. There are multi-faceted rectangular markers and the flat dial gives the look of a two-dimensional surface.
The quartz movement of the watch is designed by experts. The process simply converts the movement of the minute hands into energy that is further used to run the watch.
Seiko watches are known for their time accuracy that only finest electronic watches can deliver.
If you’re interested in Seiko watches, consider this Solar Watch with a Blue Dial. It has a dressy style, which would work well for work or for formal engagements.
The main highlights of this watch include:
- Imported from Japan
- Round watch with a sunray dial
- 43mm stainless steel case
- Solar-powered Japanese quartz movement
- 10 ATM rating (good for up to 100m underwater)
This particular watch has averaged 4.5 stars from over 200+ user reviews. Many users cite the watch’s excellent value for its price. It’s Seiko. It’s quality.
For a classy watch with a brown strap, consider this Seiko solar watch. Yet another fine dress watch from Seiko. It has that classic brown which would work in a work setting or for formal social occasions.
Here are the features of this particular model:
- Round dress watch with two-tone case
- 39mm stainless steel case with Hardlex dial window
- Japanese quartz movement with analog display
- Croco-embossed leather band with buckle closure
- 10 ATM rating.
This model has received an average of 4.5 stars from over 280+ customer reviews. Like many of the watches featured in this article, this watch is cited for its aesthetics, quality and excellent price entry point.
This particular watch from Seiko has the classic three buttons on the side. It has a dark, metallic polish with a black face. It has the three sub-dials, which are a common feature found in many chronograph watches.
Like most chronograph style watches, this particular watch has a sturdy built and is meant for outdoor activity and even flying a plane. Moreover, this particular Seiko model looks stylish enough that it could work well in more formal settings.
The main features of this Seiko Solar Chronograph watch include:
- Black ion finish with 60-minute, date, calendar and LumiBrite hands/markers
- Stainless steel 42.5 mm case
- Japanese quartz movement and solar-powered
- Good for up to 6 months without recharging
- Stopwatch functionalities
- 10 ATM rating
This particular watch has averaged 4.5 stars from over 160+ honest reviews. User find the watch attractive and cite the quality of the Seiko craftsmanship.
This list isn’t an exhaustive list of all the Seiko watches in the market. There are many models out there from this great Japanese company. Do your research and certainly take a look at all the watch types covered in this website.
The brand was founded by Japanese and Swiss investors in 1930. A pioneer in its field, the brand launched its atomic timekeeping watch in 1993.
The Chronomaster by Citizen is a high accuracy quartz watch. It is known as the most accurate watch ever made. These watches are shipped out of Japan only if ordered online.
The philosophy behind the brand is “products that people love”. The Citizen collection includes automatic, casual, classic, chronograph, eco-drive, promaster and satellite wave watches.
For more information on Citizen, take a look at my review of Citizen dress watches.
When you browse through the world of watches, you will come to know that Citizen watches possess some unique features. Here are the common ones:
- Eco-drive: The eco-drive technology of the watch can harness power from any light source whether natural or artificial. This technology converts light into energy that enables the watch to keep running. The permanently rechargeable Lithium-ion cell stores all the energy into it. As the watch runs on light, you never need any battery for it. The Lithium-ion cell can store enough energy at a time that it can last for several months in dark.
- Atomic timekeeping: This feature enables the watch to deliver précised time. The special radio towers transmit precise time to your watch. This technology enables the watch to adjust time automatically.
- Perpetual calendar: The calendar of the watch does not need any manual resetting, the technology handles it automatically. These watches update the date, time and month on their own.
Speaking of Eco-Drive models from Citizen, take a look at this popular model –-
ECO-DRIVE STAINLESS STEEL
The Eco-DRV AR 2.0 Stainless steel watch from Citizen. It’s a very sporty watch, and marketed as a watch for racing car enthusiasts. Although not as flashy as the Ferrari watch, it definitely nails down the sporty look with its black resin accents, pierced leather design and modern pinstripe design.
It’s not meant to be a dressy watch, and it’s more for outdoor types. The main features include:
- Stylish stainless steel watch with textured black dial with date windows and baton markers
- 44mm stainless steel case with mineral dial window
- Japanese solar-powered quartz movement
- Polyurethane band with buckle enclosure
- 10 ATM rating (good for 100m underwater
This particular watch has earned an average of 4.5 stars from over 300+ honest reviews. Many users cite it’s clean, sporty look and the amazing price.
Citizen makes chronograph style watches under it’s Eco-Drive line. Here’s a popular model:
The Eco-Drive Titanium Chronograph from Citizen.
It has the three dials on the side plus windows to show seconds and fractional seconds. It features the color black through and through. The band has a black color with a titanium finish and the dial is black. Only drawback: user have mentioned scratches can be hard to hide on the band.
Main highlights of this Citizen solar watch model:
- Imported from Japan
- Titanium watch with center dial featuring date window and the typical chronograph subdials
- 43mm titanium case with antireflective-sapphire dial window
- Japanese solar-powered quartz model
- Titanium link bracelet with fold-over clasp
- Water resistant up to 100m (10 ATM rating)
This particular watch has received an average of 4.5 stars from 100+ genuine user reviews. Many users love the design. Also, users love the lightweight feel of the watch, as titanium weigh less than a typical stainless steel watch.
If you’re unfamiliar with this upstart brand, check out my full coverage on Vincero watches.
This citizen watch is prices less (as of this writing) than the Vincero Kairos watch, yet it’s just as classy and nice looking.
It’s a dressy watch but doesn’t “scream” at you like the more opulent Henry Jay watch. It uses Roman numerals as hour markers. The Citizen logo is placed at the 12 o’clock position. The leather strap looks clean and nice. It’s perfect for work and for formal gatherings, like anniversaries and weddings.
The main features of this watch include the following:
- Stainless steel watch with silver-tone dial featuring Roman numerals
- 40mm stainless steel case
- Japanese quartz movement with analog display (solar-powered)
- Genuine leather band with buckle closure
- 3ATM rating (splash proof)
This watch has earned an average of 4.5 stars from over 80+ user reviews. For under $100, this Citizen minimalist watch is a bargain. Add in the fact it uses solar power and you can’t beat this value from a renowned watchmaker like Citizen.
This list of brands is not an exhaustive one. As with all watch purchases, make sure you do your research. Understand what you’re buying. Know your budget. Know your fashion style.
HOW DOES A SOLAR POWERED WATCH WORK?
Now that I’ve covered the world’s most popular brands of solar watches, I’ll now discuss how this amazing timepiece actually works.
The functionality of solar watches is quite simple. It’s based upon the photovoltaic cells or PV cells they contain. These cells directly convert light energy into electrical one.
Photo means light and voltaic means electricity.
The PV cells are made of Silicone which is a semiconductor. Each solar panel has two layers of silicone inbuilt. One layer has excessive electrons and the other lacks a few.
When light rays fall on the silicone layer with missing electrons, it knocks down more electrons to other layer. It creates an empty space and the layer attracts photons to fill the space. It sets up a one way system and the process is never reversed.
The electrons keep on flowing from the deficit layer to the one with already excessive electrons. When the quantity of electrons increases more than the layer can accommodate, a different process occurs. Instead of being knocked down, the extra electrons are absorbed by attaching a wire to it. This is how electricity is created. This electricity keeps the watch running even in the absence of sunlight.
The used electrons will again deposit back in the other layer. The process is almost eternal and will be constantly happening in the presence of sunlight.
To make the process more effective, the very shiny silicone layer is covered with a layer of anti-reflective material. Being so shiny, it will reflect all the sunlight and PV cells would not be able to absorb it. This anti-reflective material ensures that the process takes place smoothly. The anti-reflective layer is made up of glass or plastic. It also protects cells from any kind of damage.
HOW TO CHARGE A SOLAR WATCH WITHOUT SUN?
Have you ever wondered how will you charge your solar watch in the absence of sun? How do people living in areas like Scotland, where they do not get to see the sun for days or weeks, manage with their solar watches? The answer is simple. Yes, you can charge your solar watch with the help of artificial light. The alternative light source can keep your watch running but if used in a specified manner.
This step-by-step guide will help you to charge your solar watch in no time.
Step 1: Put your watch on table at night so that you can use it for the whole next day.
Step 2: Make sure your watch is placed with right side facing up. Charging cells should face the right way if you want to get them charged. If you put the watch upside down, the cells will never get charged how effective your alternate trick is.
Step 3: Turn on all the lights of the room on. The lights are essential to take on the charging process smoothly. Traditionally, everyone sleeps with the lights off but you have to adjust to keep your watch charged and running.
Step 4: Your watch will use all the light energy and convert it into electrical one. You may feel surprised by the fact but the solar watches can practically use any light source to power it. It is due to this technique, the solar watches can survive is outcast areas as well.
Step 5: It is very important to keep the lights on for the whole night so that your watch can create enough juice to keep going.
Step 6: Do not let the lights disturb your sleeping pattern and put the watch in another room to sleep conveniently.
Yes, it is that simple. Using and charging this watch is so easy even in the absence of sunlight.
IS THE SOLAR WATCH STYLE FOR YOU?
As I state in every article in this website, do your research before making your watch purchase. Know your budget. Know why you’re buying a watch:
- Is it for work?
- Is it for sports?
- Is it to look good while holding that vodka martini?
Then do your research and peruse this site for all my guides on watches.
As you’ve seen, solar watches cross over into many different styles. There are chronograph solar watches. There are dressy solar watches. There are sporty looking ones.
One thing they all have in common –
They are eco-friendly!
They run purely on light and even without light, many of these quality watches can keep working for many months. Many even recharge with just artificial light.
Solar watches are a step above the wooden watches, like the Original Grain models, when it comes to judging their eco-friendliness. It’s because solar watches don’t require batteries.
Finally, since solar watches require no batteries, they’re much friendlier to your wallet, as you don’t have to replace the batteries in the future.
Hopefully, this solar watch review has been useful in your search for the perfect watch. You can’t go wrong with any of the brands mentioned in this article.