There are all kinds of watches on the market today, but two of the most popular types are solar and automatic watches. In this article, we’ll compare the internal workings of solar watches vs automatic watches, and the benefits and disadvantages of each. This can help you make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing your next timepiece.
How Does An Automatic Watch Work?
When clocks and watches were first invented, they had to be wound with a special key or by the crown to keep them ticking. As small-scale technology improved, it became possible for watches to wind themselves just by being worn by the user.
These watches are also known as ‘self-winders.’ This is because, unlike a manual watch, you don’t need to wind the watch regularly to keep it on time. You also don’t need to change the battery every few months, as with most models.
An automatic watch has a clever function inside which allows energy to be stored in a spring. Energy is created whenever the wearer moves their wrist. This spins a rotor, which transfers energy to the spring, powering the hour, minute and second hands.
How Does a Solar Watch Work?
Solar watches, like those made by Seiko, Citizen, and Casio, do not rely on mechanical winding, like a manual watch, or wrist movements, like an automatic watch. Instead, multiple solar cells capable of converting sunlight into electrical energy are beneath the watch face.
Both natural and artificial light can charge these cells, and that energy is stored in the watch’s power cell, which is rechargeable. Small amounts of energy are then used by the watch to vibrate a mineral crystal. This crystal then powers the watch’s second, minute, and hour hands accurately.
One of the advantages of solar watches is that if you leave a solar watch in a dark drawer for an extended period, it may stop working, but will begin to work again when exposed to light.
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Pros and Cons: Solar Watches Vs. Automatic Watches
You can buy a great solar or automatic watch, but here we list the advantages and disadvantages of both to help you choose which one is best for your needs.
|Solar Pros||Automatic Pros|
|No need to wind it to keep it working||A feat of modern engineering|
|Overall more accurate over a long period of time||Small parts are delicately hand-crafted|
|Won’t stop working even after periods of non-exposure to light||A more complex device overall with many parts working in unison|
|Usually thinner and more lightweight||No batteries required|
|Often very affordable due to simple design||Generally low maintenance|
|Can operate for many years on end||Impressive internal workings and movement|
|Environmentally friendly, no lithium-ion batteries||Can be passed down over generations|
|Solar Cons||Automatic Cons|
|Top models can be more expensive than a regular quartz||Often have to be thicker due to internal mechanisms|
|Not as robust||Heavier than solar|
|Should not be kept hidden under the sleeve as they need light||More expensive|
|Hard to repair if they break||Can lose accuracy as time goes by|
Which Watch Is Right For Me: Solar or Automatic?
Comparing solar watches vs. automatic watches should reveal that the right watch for you will depend on a number of factors. If you’re looking for a showy timepiece that has beautiful mechanical workings, then automatic is the way to go. Automatic watches come in some fantastic designs and colors. This is especially true of Swiss automatic watches, and you’ll have the benefit of not having to change the battery.
Plenty of attractive solar watches exist, but if you’re focused on practicality over aesthetics, then solar tends to be the way to go. Solar watches are typically designed to last for a long time and then be disposed of, rather than repaired or handed down the generations. As a result, if you’re looking for value and a simple design, solar is the best choice.
Keep in mind also that sometimes you will need to repair or maintain your automatic watch, as it will start to run a little slow over months of constant use. Solar watches, on the other hand, will stay accurate for many years. The vast majority of high-end, luxury watches are automatics and you can choose from a wide range of brands such as Omega, Citizen, or even Rolex. Many brands also make great solar watches (the Garmin Instinct and Casio G-Shock come to mind), but in a much more limited capacity, reducing your choice.
Last Updated on March 26, 2022
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