Introduction to solar watches
Be honest, how many watches have you got squirreled away somewhere because you love them, but the battery ran out, and you’ve never replaced it? You need to know about solar watches!
It can be really frustrating to have a watch you love but can’t use without going out of your way to get it working again. They end up back in the box and shoved away again until the next time you have a spring clean.
There are ways you can bring a watch back to life, even if it has been hiding for a decade. These kinds of watches have been around for a long time, but some people remain skeptical about their reliability. These watches are solar-powered and made by pretty much every major watch brand you can name.
Solar-powered watches can be hidden away in a box for years and still work when you get round to finding them. They’re also much more environmentally friendly than their battery-carrying counterparts.
The most popular example of a traditional solar-powered watch is the Citizen Eco-Drive. But there is smartwatch and sports watch options, too, which we’ll go into.
Let’s have a deeper look into what solar watches are about.
Solar watches have better technology than ever
Solar power is incredibly similar to luminous watches. There are actually different ways a watch can harness the energy from sunlight. A solar-powered watch that you bought 10-20 years ago isn’t going to be the same as the one you might buy today. Things change. It would be like comparing one of those clunky MP3 players to your iPhone. Sure, they both play music, but the tech is significantly different now.
Since the earlier days of solar-powered timepieces, there have been some huge steps in their ability to harness and store energy. An Eco-Drive, for example, can last up to 8 years if you get the right model.
Another improvement we see today is that designers have ditched some of the more questionable aesthetics we saw between the 70s and 90s. These designs were down to the need for incorporating the solar panels into the watch. Nowadays, solar watches look just like any other.
So, don’t judge whether or not you want to buy a solar watch in 2020 off the back of that dusty, clunky one you might have in a cupboard somewhere. It’s apples and oranges.
Solar watches don’t just rely on direct sunlight
Despite the name, solar-powered watches can get a charge from more than just direct sunlight. You can charge one with artificial light, too! So today’s solar-powered watches are going to be a lot more reliable than their predecessors, thanks to the evolution of the source of their charge.
It’s almost impossible that you’ll be shielded from the sun long enough for your solar-powered watch to die. Knowing that you can utilize artificial light means you’re probably always going to be near a source of energy for a quick boost.
Constantly on charge
One huge benefit to having a solar-powered watch is that they are constantly charging. This means the power reserve is only relied on in times of absolutely no light source. As mentioned, specific Eco-Drive models can last up to 8 years in no light. Which, unless you’re living in some dystopian post-apocalyptic underground bunker with no electricity, you watch won’t die.
There are two things to remember about a watch that is constantly charging. Small and frequent recharges actually degrade the battery life, eventually. Your watch can only take so many recharges before the battery quality begins to deteriorate.
Seiko, who make some excellent solar watches, recommends a battery replacement once every decade. Not too much to ask, is it?
This means your watch can perform for more than this ten-year period. An Eco-Drive comes with a replacement battery. Testing has shown that a Citizen battery can retain over 80% of its capacity over a 20 year lifetime. So this ten-year figure is a minimum!
If you switch to smartwatches such as Garmin, on the other hand, you will get longer times between charging and up to 30 days in some cases. The Garmin Fenix 6X Solar is one such example, with its battery lasting up to 21 days in the solar version.
Made by brands you can trust
Buying a big brand means you get quality, accuracy, and reliability for many years. You’ll also get peace of mind knowing your timepiece comes with a guarantee.
Decent options are abundant from multiple brands. You can find a make you love in a style that reflects your personality.
The two biggest names in the rugged watch section of the market are G-Shock (Casio) and Garmin. And it’s somewhat of a given that, as rugged watches are outdoor watches, they should be solar-powered.
Let’s have a look at 7 awesome solar watches from these two popular brands and others for comparison.
1. Seiko Coutura Men’s Solar Chronograph
Seiko is a world leader in watchmaking and is certainly a brand you can trust for high quality and good looks.
This stunning chronograph features a 44mm resin case and Japanese quartz movement. Furthermore, the sunray finish gray dial features a chronograph, alarm subdials, and perpetual calendar functions such as leap year, month, day, and date indicators.
One of the best features of the Seiko Coutura is its 6-month power reserve once fully charged, needing no battery change thanks to its ability to charge via light energy.
Water-resistant to 100m, this is a bold, stylish timepiece guaranteed to make a statement wherever you wear it.
- Powered by light energy, with no battery change required, this model has a 6-month power reserve...
- Case Diameter: 44.0mm
- The sunray finish gray dial features chronograph and alarm subdials and perpetual calendar functions...
2. Timex Men’s Expedition Scout
Another legendary brand in the world of watchmaking. This practical and durable timepiece is ideal for those that want a more understated watch.
The Scout is the smallest of the Timex Expedition range at just 40 mm however it still boasts the same 4-month power reserve and water resistance to 50 m as its siblings. Furthermore, the Scout comes in a range of colors with a choice of fabric or leather straps, so you are guaranteed to find a combination that matches your style.
- Adjustable green 20mm fabric Fast Wrap strap with hook & look closure fits up to 8-inch wrist...
- Charged by any light with a four-month power reserve
- Green dial with full Arabic numerals; date window at 3 o'clock
- Adjustable black stitched 20 mm leather strap fits up to 8 Inch wrist circumference
- Black dial with full Arabic numerals; date window at 3 o'clock
- Black 40 mm brass case with mineral crystal; luminous hands
- Adjustable brown stitched 20mm leather strap fits up to 8-inch wrist circumference
- Charged by any light with a four-month power reserve
- Gray dial with full Arabic numerals; date window at 3 o'clock
Timex Expedition Acadia is also a good solar watch option to explore.
- Adjustable blue 20mm fabric strap fits up to 8-inch wrist circumference
- Charged by any light with a four-month power reserve
- Blue dial with partial Arabic numerals; date window at 3 o'clock; 24-hour military time
3. Maserati Successo
Just like the car, this is a watch for those that like to make a statement. In gun-metal gray with rose gold accents, this really is a stunning watch.
This timepiece has a sporty look and a 45mm case, which features dials with luminescent indexes and hands, and a power reserve indicator.
Furthermore, water resistance to 50m means you can be comfortable wearing it in the shower and don’t have to worry about getting caught in the rain.
Also comes in silver color with stainless steel and a blue dial which is nonetheless beautiful.
Why not get a stunning Maserati Successo watch also for the lady? We truly love the deisgn and price/performance ratio of this beautiful piece for women. See below. I don’t think she will be disappointed…
4. Casio G-Shock Solar
Casio’s device is a great option because it’s part of a well-engineered sports line designed to withstand serious weather conditions.
It features a 50mm resin case, Japanese quartz movement, a digital display, and solid construction.
Strong water pressure and centrifugal and impact forces are no match for this tough G-Shock solar-powered smartwatch. It tends to be suitable for both mountainous adventure sports and more casual morning walks.
The fact that this smartwatch is mostly used in specialized marine and military operations is another sign of its advanced technology. See the list below, sorted by price (which you can view in Amazon App). The first two in this list are not technically a G-Shock but they are still Tough and Solar (and a lot cheaper).
5. Casio Pro Trek Smart Trek
This next Casio smartwatch has a powerful display, a Tide Graph feature that shows exact dates and times, and more. Namely, a compass, altimeter, and barometer, which will come in handy if you love mountain hiking.
The thermometer’s display scale ranges from -10 to 60 degrees Celsius (14 to 140 F). The device’s tolerance to low temperatures is another feature worth noting.
The full auto EL backlight with afterglow is a must-have feature that helps you to read the time even in low-light conditions. The solar rechargeable battery has a five-month life expectancy.
- Tough Solar Power, multi band 6, 100 m Water Resistant
- Digital compass w/Bearing memory, Altimeter, Barometer, thermometer,
- World time, Full Auto LED light w/afterglow, 5 daily alarms; Display range: 260 to 1,100 hPa (7.65...
If you’d like to learn more about the G-Shock range, you should read our list of the 7 best G-Shock watches for the military. If those aren’t tough enough, nothing will be!
6. Casio G-Shock Rangeman
The Casio G-Shock Rangeman was the first solar-powered smartwatch back in 2018, and it would be wrong not to include it in this list of solar-powered timepieces. However, Casio now offers a wide range of solar-powered watches, and so if you decide that this model isn’t the one for you, there are others to choose from – such as the Casio G-Shock Tough Solar.
Aesthetically it looks good, and it feels great on your wrist, but the buttons are hard to use, and the screen isn’t particularly advanced compared with competitors.
It’s very expensive, especially for a watch that has been around for a while. That being said, I’m pretty sure that if we were stuck in the wilderness, then this watch would get you home with ease. It’s mud, dust, and waterproof so that you can take it on the wettest expedition without damaging it – and that’s what makes it a great choice for anyone who wants to get a solar charging watch.
- Solar-powered digital watch in stainless steel with multiple displays, red contrasts, and textured...
- Quartz movement with analog display
- Protective mineral crystal dial window
7. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar
The Garmin Fenix 6 is among the best multi-sport wearables money can buy, with success and adventure monitoring and GPS-based navigation for just about any outdoor activity.
Train with a tough yet stylish watch with a 1.3-inch touchscreen and titanium, stainless steel, or DLC lined bezel.
You can log a heck of a lot with this device with its upgraded exercise profiles, such as advanced grit and flow measures while mountain biking. Even surfing!
Improved performance statistics, like the acclimation 2.0 widget, to review additional data to see if the body is holding up to the new elevation, will help you overcome difficult obstacles.
Preloaded TOPO charts, ski maps for 2,000 worldwide ski resorts, support for various global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo), built-in sensors for 3-axis compass, gyroscope, and barometric altimeter help you navigate the outdoors.
- Multisport GPS watch with solar charging capabilities uses a Power Glass solar charging lens and...
- Train with a rugged yet sophisticated watch, featuring an always-on 1.3” display and a titanium,...
- Track surfing sessions with a new dedicated activity profile, and even use Surfline Sessions, which...
The ratings for the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar are excellent, and it promises to allow you the ability to charge as you go. The Pro Solar comes in a titanium case. It has solar panels all around the rim so that your watch will never need to be plugged in for long if it’s shown the light of day.
This watch may not be the prettiest, but it certainly packs a punch when it comes to tracking your sporting endeavors. The GPS can support whatever outdoor activity interests you the most with fantastic accuracy. The activity tracking capabilities are also superb. You can be certain that your watch will be right when it tells you how you are doing. Furthermore, it provides useful insights when you need them. It’s incredibly durable as well.
8. Garmin Instinct Solar
This Garmin smartwatch has a body battery energy tracking feature that monitors your heart rate, stress, and sleep. It gives you all the information you need to live a safe active lifestyle.
With the Pulse Ox tracking tool on the solar-powered smartwatch from Garmin, you can have a healthy and effective workout customized to your physical needs.
The wrist heart rate feature, which provides useful data even when you’re underwater, allows you to keep track of your heartbeat.
- Garmin Instinct Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS and Heart Rate Monitoring
- Rugged GPS watch built to withstand the toughest environments
- IN THE BOX: Charging/Data Cable
9. Citizen Eco-Drive Range
If you are looking for a quality solar-powered smartwatch that looks like a traditional watch, then the Citizen Eco-Drive range is the one for you. The River model allows you to set the side buttons to function the way you want. It can be used to make calls, track steps, get directions, and much more.
While the watch may look traditional, the screen is far from it. You’ll get your notifications displayed directly on the face of the watch like a typical smartwatch. You can download functions from the Riiiver store to personalize your experience. Furthermore, it tracks activity really well, giving you a complete overview in the app.
There is a choice between four different designs.
- Eco-Drive is fueled by light so it never needs a battery
- Silver tone stainless steel bracelet with blue dial
- 12/24 Hour Analog Time
10. Matrix PowerWatch 2
If you can get past the high list price, then the souped-up Matrix PowerWatch 2 may be a perfect choice. While not brand new to the market, it still comes with many enviable features that make it worth a look. The great thing about it is that it has pretty much everything you’d expect in a smartwatch. However, it’s constantly charging via its in-built solar panels so that you never need to worry about taking it off.
The watch doesn’t come with any software for apps. However, it does measure your heart rate, GPS, and offers other features. Meaning, you can track your every move and analyze your progress over time.
It’s 42mm in width with a black metal case with red accents that make it pop. Its simple-to-use dials give access to all its functions, and it feels great on your wrist. All in all, this is a fantastic watch for anyone who wants solar panels, style, and no pressure to conform to the well-known platforms. This watch really will last a lifetime of activity, and so the initial outlay may make it worthwhile in the long one.
- NEVER CHARGE AGAIN - featuring MATRIX Industries' patented thermoelectric technology keeping your...
- Smart watch features new and improved sensors that record Metrics such as calories, steps...
- Built-in smart watch GPS location tracking shows the routes and altitude of your workouts so you can...
The first solar watch came out in the 1970s, and since then, the tech has gone through some impressive changes. The earlier styles were big and heavy because they needed to accommodate large solar panels. Thankfully, we’ve refined this, and you can now own a watch you love that will stay with you for 20 years or more.
Your solar-powered watch will be equally reliable as its quarts counterparts. If you’re into environmentally-friendly products that look great, get yourself a solar watch.
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Last Updated on October 19, 2021