Are you interested in purchasing a new wrist watch? Timekeeping enthusiasts in this modern era have more choices to pick from than ever before. Watches today don’t just tell you the time, they often include additional features such as built-in chronographs, calendars, and time zone trackers.
Of the numerous watch types out there, the ones that have been gaining the most attention from environmentally conscious enthusiasts are solar powered wrist watches. If you’re interested in getting a timekeeper that is powered by renewable energy, this guide can help you find the best solar powered wrist watches in 2020.
What are solar powered wrist watches?
As their name implies, solar powered wrist watches are timepieces that run on the energy provided by sunlight. These devices typically feature tiny solar panels that absorb sunlight and convert it to electrical energy, before storing it in a rechargeable battery. This battery gets charged up easily and allows the watch to function during both the day and the night.
Solar watches were invented in the late 1960s and have been growing in popularity ever since. The early iterations of solar watch designs often featured a “futuristic” appearance with bright plastic and metal housings. These LED watches could outlast the existing LCD watches that were available everywhere in the 1970s.
Powering up LED watches was usually a challenge due to their relatively high energy consumption; however, the built-in solar panels on early solar powered watches allowed them to overcome this hurdle.
Today, solar wrist watches come with analog clock faces, LED displays, and LCD displays. Some high end smartwatches with large LCD displays also run on solar power, which makes them an attractive option for environmentally conscious techies. Garmin Solar Watches
How to choose a solar powered watch
The process of choosing a solar powered watch isn’t very different from choosing a regular watch. Most people choose timepieces that fit their aesthetic taste and include their desired features. Some things to look out for when you are browsing through solar powered watch options are:
Watch enthusiasts have plenty of style options to choose from. Analog watches feature miniature 12-hour clock faces. These come with an hour hand and a minute hand that move, similar to a full-sized clock. These are traditional watch designs that have been updated to be powered by the sunlight.
LED watches are also known as digital watches. These use small light emitting diodes (LEDs) to display the current time.
LCD watches feature a liquid crystal display (LCD) fit between two plates. LCD displays do not emit light themselves, and require a built-in back-light in order to display the time in the dark.
The main body of a watch can be made from a variety of different materials. Some people prefer stainless steel watches made from an iron-carbon alloy for their corrosion resistance and durability. Others may prefer titanium alloy watches, as they are more durable than stainless steel and do not cause allergies for people with metal allergies
Silicon rubber watches feature soft and resilient surfaces. They often come in a variety of colors and are usually waterproof. These lightweight watches offer a stylish alternative to the heavier and more serious looking steel and titanium watches.
Plastic watches are similar to silicon rubber watches in that they come in a variety of colors. However, their surfaces may be more prone to scratches. The plastics they are made from may not be very environmentally friendly, which could reduce the appeal of these solar watch options.
Some watch designs come with different strap options. The most common strap materials include stainless steel, titanium, nylon, silicon, plastic, and leather.
You may prefer a particular type of strap for its style, comfort, and durability. Many watches feature swappable strap options that can be changed at will.
A large percentage of solar powered watches offer water resistance. The solar panels on these devices are usually well protected by the crystal, which keeps water out even at deep depths. Many solar power watch designs are water resistant up to 330ft, with some models offering water resistance up to a depth of 660 ft.
Charging time and battery capacity
Most other watches are powered by a winding mechanism or non-rechargeable batteries. Built-in recharging is a feature that is unique to solar watches compared to other variants. Different solar watches feature varying charging times and battery capacities.
It’s difficult to compare charging times and battery life for different solar watches, as manufacturers rarely specify these details. However, analog watches generally have a greater power consumption compared to digital watches.
This is because moving the gears and wheels on analog watches is a physical process that requires a fair amount of energy to complete. For this reason, you can expect digital solar watch designs to charge up faster and/or last longer than analog designs on a single charge.
Advantages of owning a solar powered watch
Solar powered watches are an attractive option for many different reasons. These include:
With traditional watches, you need to open them from the back and change their batteries whenever they run out of juice. Similarly, wind-up timepieces need to be taken to a watchmaker to be wound up once they stop working.
Solar watches on the other hand are recharged every time they are exposed to sunlight. They simply need to be left near a window, or moved around in a sunny area to start the recharging process. These devices can be charged up by any form of light, whether natural or artificial. However, attempting to recharge your watch under a light bulb may take much longer compared to charging under sunlight.
Solar powered watches are a more eco-friendly option compared to other battery powered ones. Modern wrist watches need to have their batteries replaced whenever they run out of power. These batteries are usually produced from chemicals which may be damaging to the environment.
Solar powered watches also feature built-in batteries that may be made from non-environmentally friendly materials and chemicals. However, they do not have to be replaced until they break down, which could take between 10 and 20 years.
Solar powered wristwatches typically do not require maintenance. Their display and solar panels may need to be wiped down occasionally to prevent dust from obscuring the panels and slowing down the charging process. However, they do not have to be taken to a watchmaker for the kind of maintenance wind-up wristwatches have to undergo every few years.
How to charge a solar watch
After purchasing a solar watch, you will need to charge it up to its maximum capacity in order to enjoy its high battery life. Some solar wristwatches come pre-charged, or are packaged in clear boxes so that they charge up while they are on display at retail stores. Certain models also feature battery level markers that tell you how much charge they have left.
If you want to charge these wristwatches as fast as possible, you should place them in an area that receives plenty of sunlight. A window ledge or an outdoor table would be the ideal locations for this. The batteries on these watches may take around 20 hours to charge up to full capacity, so you may need to leave them in place for two days, depending on how many hours of daily sunlight you receive.
If you live in a region that receives very little sunlight during certain times of the year, you can still charge your watch under artificial light sources, such as a light bulb. However, the energy output from these sources is much lower than sunlight, so you may need to leave your wristwatch under this light for up to a week before it reaches full charge. Solar Watch
Solar Watch Reviews
The Seiko Prospex Padi is the best watch on our list. Seiko knocks it out of the park with a business-friendly design that is also PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) approved. This stainless steel dive watch features an easy-to-read display with luminescent hands. Its matching steel bracelet features a triple-locking clasp for a secure fit.
The Prospex’s red, white, and blue color palette is vibrant and looks stunning even underwater. Its rotating diver’s bezel lets you track 60 minute intervals with ease. It’s a straightforward yet great looking design for any diving enthusiast.
- Reasonably priced for great build quality.
- Date window lens offers enhanced visibility.
- Features PADI signature colors.
- Easy to read underwater.
- The battery may have trouble holding its charge according to some users (https://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/B01NCPW8NT/ref=acr_dp_hist_2?ie=UTF8&filterByStar=two_star&reviewerType=all_reviews#reviews-filter-bar)
- Some minute markers don’t align with the the marks on the bezel.
- Has a hefty appearance on the wrist.
- Bracelet doesn’t have the fine adjustment features that Seiko’s higher end watches do.
The Citizen Eco-Drive Movement is our upgrade pick, for watch enthusiasts interested in keeping something extra special around their wrist. Citizen are known for making high-end watches that feature a premium appearance and feel, but without the hefty price tag associated with luxury watches. They have been producing stellar quality solar powered watches for decades, and their Eco-Drive Movement series is a great addition to their legacy.
This is one of the most accurate solar timepieces available on the market. It is equipped with a radio control feature that receives signals from an atomic clock and automatically adjusts the time when you cross from one time zone to another. The Eco-Drive Movement can adjust to 26 different time zones and also features a power reserve indicator
It’s deep blue dial and yellow accented hands give it a smart yet sporty appearance. This solar watch can last up to 6 months on a single charge and features a water resistance of 660 ft. The Eco-Drive Movement is the ideal choice for people who need a reliable timepiece to travel with.
- Can run up to 6 months on a single charge.
- Time automatically syncs with atomic clocks using radio signals.
- Features a power reserve indicator on the dial.
- Includes a perpetual calendar that accommodates leap years.
- Initial set up can be complicated according to some users. https://www.amazon.com/Citizen-AT8020-54L-Angels-Stainless-Eco-Drive/dp/B008RNKIV8?th=1
- Numbers and symbols on the slide rule are very small.
- Needs to be kept near a window to receive atomic clock signals for automatic adjustment.
Casio’s Solar Sport Combination Watch is the most affordable solar powered watch in our list. This timepiece is a great choice for people with an active lifestyle. Its black and white dials are simple and uncluttered. You can set up to 5 alarms at once, and it includes stopwatch and countdown timer functions that are useful for training.
In addition to its analog dials, this watch features an LCD display that can be adjusted to show date or time. The power saving function turns the display blank when the watch is left in the dark. The special power saving mode can also extend the battery life significantly. Casio’s Solar Sports Combination watch is the best affordable option for active people when they are on-the-go.
- One of the most affordable solar powered watch options on the market.
- Weighs only 40g.
- Stopwatch and countdown timer functions.
- Lasts up to 10 months on a single charge, and up to 23 months on power saving mode.
- Difficult to see dials in the dark, as “light” function only illuminates the display.
- Alarm doesn’t feature a snooze button.
- Water resistance only up to 330 ft.
- Plastic wristband breaks easily https://www.amazon.com/Casio-AQ-S810W-1AV-Solar-Sport-Combination/product-reviews/B00791R1MI/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewopt_kywd?pageNumber=1&filterByKeyword=broke
The BERING Time Women’s Slim Watch is our style pick. This solar watch combines style with eco-friendly functionality. The deep blue color scheme gives it a soothing yet elegant appearance, which looks gorgeous in a variety of settings.
It’s sapphire crystal offers superior protection and scratch resistance, which are needed to keep the dazzling Swarovski crystal indices safe. It features a comfortable medical-grade stainless steel strap. The no-nonsense minimalist design makes it suitable for casual daily use as well as on dressier occasions.
- Sleek and elegant Danish design
- One of the few solar powered women’s watches on the market.
- Sapphire crystal is rare for watches at this price point.
- Comfortable medical grade stainless steel strap
- Lack of additional features such as a calendar.
- Water resistance is only up to 164 ft.
- No visible battery level indicator.
- Some users report it isn’t very durable https://www.amazon.com/14427-393-Collection-Stainless-Steel-Resistent-Sapphire/product-reviews/B06X6HDPTL/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewpnt_rgt?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=all_reviews&filterByStar=critical&pageNumber=1
Q: Are solar powered watches any good?
A: Solar powered watches come in a variety of styles and sizes. These watches do not require a lot of power to function, which makes it easy to run them on sunlight. A single charge can keep these timepieces running for several months. This means you won’t have to worry about them stopping at night.
Q: Which Casio watches are solar powered?
A: Casio offers many sport and G-Shock watches that run on solar power. You can see their selection of solar timepieces here
Q: How long do solar watches last?
A: The battery life of a solar watch varies from one design to the next. The Casio Solar Sport Combination Watch can last up to 23 months on power saving mode on a single charge. Other solar watch designs last for several months on a full charge.
Q: Which is better Seiko Solar or Citizen Eco Drive
A: The Seiko Prospex Padi is the better watch. It doesn’t have the additional features that the Citizen Eco Drive offers, but its water resistance is the same, and its visibility is great in a variety of settings. The Prospex Padi also costs less than the Citizen Eco Drive.
The winner in our list of solar powered watches is the Seiko Prospex Padi. This watch may not feature all the bells and whistles that the Citizen Eco-Drive Movement offers, but its sporty yet business-friendly design won us over. Seiko’s signature craftsmanship is visible in each nook and cranny of this watch. It’s simple appearance and large hands gives it great visibility in the dark and underwater.
The Prospex Padi’s 660 ft. water resistance makes it ready to face any challenges you can throw at it. This watch was designed with divers in mind, and it certainly shows.