Introduction to solar watches
Be honest, how many watches do you have squirreled away somewhere because 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. Nowadays, solar-powered watches are made by pretty much every major watch brand.
Solar-powered watches are 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.
Solar watches are unlikely to die on you, too. You can often 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 changing. 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, your 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 as rugged watches are outdoor watches, it’s somewhat of a given that 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. Citizen Eco-Drive Navihawk A-T
Attention all explorers and jet-setters: the new Citizen Navihawk could be the perfect travel companion for your next trip. This gorgeous watch is part of Citizen’s sleek line of sustainable timepieces, and offers a professional look.
As with any Eco-Drive watch from Citizen, the Navihawk can use any light source to keep itself charged all day. The watch face, however, is what sets this lineup apart from other Citizen wearables, with sapphire crystal and stainless steel protecting it all.
The pilot-inspired Pro Master series of watches feature Atomic Timekeeping, a 24-hour clock, a second chronograph for minutes, and the ability to sync your time with another time zone. And although this watch lacks a sporty feel or look, it does have water resistance up to 200m and shock resistance.
The Navihawk line is a reliable and durable brand worth every penny and can come in a variety of watch face colours.
2. 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 grey 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.
3. Maserati Successo
Just like the car, this is a watch for those that like to make a statement. In gun-metal grey 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. And with the Successo’s water resistance to 50m, you can be comfortable wearing it in the shower, or don’t have to worry about getting caught in the rain.
Also comes in silver colour 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 design and price/performance ratio of this beautiful piece for women. See below. She won’t be disappointed.
4. Casio G-Shock Solar
Casio’s device is designed to withstand serious weather conditions, making it a great option from a well-engineered sports line.
It features a 50mm resin case, Japanese quartz movement, a digital display, and solid construction.
This tough G-Shock solar-powered smartwatch can handle strong water pressure, as well as centrifugal and impact forces. These features make it suitable for both mountainous adventure sports, water sports, and more casual athletics.
The fact that this smartwatch is mostly used in specialized marine and military operations is another indicator that this is a tough sports watch. 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 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.
Read our review of the Casio G-Shock Smartwatch, here.
6. Garmin Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar
New training features and a touchscreen display make the Garmin Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar GPS multisport wristwatch the company’s most advanced solar-enhanced GPS wristwatch.
When it comes to solar power, the Fenix 7’s battery may last for weeks.
In addition to maps, it offers a wide range of activity profiles for different kinds of sports.
Using the watch, you may do HIIT workouts, and interval training, and create a personalised training plan. The optical heart rate monitor may be utilised in order to have a better knowledge of your performance and recovery. “Wellness” measures include things like a person’s “Body Batteries” score and stress levels.
Garmin smartwatches and the best smartwatches have a lot in common when it comes to everyday functions and features. The watch might have capabilities such as mobile push notifications, contactless payments, and music storage.
Personalization of the watch may be done with the Garmin Connect IQ app and by changing the watch face.
The Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar costs just under $900, which is a lot of money for a watch, but it’s worth it.
The ratings for the Garmin Fenix 7 range as a whole are excellent, and it promises to allow you the ability to charge as you go. The Sapphire 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 endeavours. 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.
7. Garmin Tactix Delta Solar
With a name like “Tactix”, you’ll be expecting a tough, military-grade watch. The Garmin Tactix Delta Solar is just that, as well as so much more.
This is the solar watch for you if you are always on the go, partaking in extreme sports, or would be a great watch for someone who works outside or in the trades. The Delta Solar can handle all sorts of weather and temperature conditions thanks to its DLC-coated bezel and power-sapphire lens.
You would be hard-pressed to find a solar watch that has as many features as Garmin can offer in many of its solar watches. Your Tactix solar watch offers GPS and tracking, over 2000 ski maps, health and fitness sensors, customizable battery modes to help extend battery life, dual-position format, and specific features for specific sports like cycling, running, or swimming.
8. Garmin Fenix 7 (range)
There are nine different models in Garmin’s current Fenix 7 sportswatch range.
With the Garmin Fenix 7, you can compete in a bike race, a half-marathon, an Ironman, or a CrossFit competition. Fenix 7 assumes you are in the know about training, nutrition, and rest. Among other things, it consists of techniques for assessing current fitness levels, setting realistic goals, and engaging in training to achieve those targets.
As of early 2022, Garmin’s Fenix 7 series is available directly from the brand and other retailers. Check the prices of each variation, but a normal model should cost between $700 and $1,000. It is a big improvement over the previous version.
With the Fenix 7, you are able to choose from three different sizes to suit your needs (42mm, 47mm, 51mm) (regular, solar, or sapphire solar).
Silicone bands add 73g to a watch that is already 50g. In comparison to the Fenix 6, the Solar Fenix 6 weighs one gram less. The company was able to improve battery life and display quality while reducing weight.
On both the Fenix 6 and 7, the touchscreen locks automatically during activity tracking. You can disable the touchscreen on your device if you prefer to use it solely through its buttons.
Swimming in pools or open water is no problem with the Fenix 7 as it is water-resistant to 100 metres.
It can last up to five days when used as a smartwatch, and up to five weeks when used as a GPS device.
Depending on your watch model, you’ll have the option to select the basic Battery Saver mode and other monitoring measures, or you can deactivate certain metrics with the Garmin Connect app.
It also has the optional optical heart rate monitor, and temperature sensor. altimeter, and oxygen saturation (SpO2) sensor.
The SpO2 level can be continuously monitored around the clock or when needed.
The Fenix 7 comes with a multi-band GPS and maps that are really useful. It may be used for regular navigation, removing the need to remove your phone from your pocket. Based on your location, the Fenix 7 can also propose places of interest, such as boutiques and cafés.
The Garmin app’s course design feature lets you create walking, running and cycling routes easily; all you need is a starting point, a distance, and a bearing, and it will build the route for you. Then, to receive instructions, sync them with your watch.
The Garmin TracBack feature, which allows you to choose your starting position and then return there after you’re done, is extremely beneficial.
Regrettably, there is no room for music. Regardless of the fact that Garmin Pay is a viable option.
Even though it is a sportswatch, Garmin’s capabilities make it suitable for anyone looking to take their training to the next level. Body Battery is still an option for this purpose. It indicates your energy levels in connection to how hard you’ve trained.
The heart rate monitor is precise and easy to read and understand at a glance, making it ideal for HIIT workouts.
With the race predictor, you can estimate how long a 5k, a 10k, a half marathon, or a marathon will take you based on your current fitness level.
This watch displays your training load over the last seven days, as well as recommendations on whether to increase, decrease, or maintain your level of intensity to achieve the best results.
The Fenix 7 has a wide range of cycling capabilities that may be combined with the rest of the company’s products.
Having the ability to track one’s sleep is very convenient. Every morning you will receive a sleep score and recommendations, as well as body batteries that will indicate how well you are doing with work and recovery.
The Garmin Fenix 7 is a great choice for serious outdoor athletes who also want some helpful smart features. Whatever the weather, you can trust this massive, durable sportswatch to keep you entertained as you cross those kilometres. Then, when you get home, you can explore the data further.
9. Skagen Sol Solar-Powered Range
When it comes to product design, Skagen has received several Red Dot prizes in the past. The brand’s popularity is largely due to its wide selection of attractive, reasonably priced watches, many of which are of high quality. Many Skagen timepieces are thinner than those from other companies because of their basic design.
This solar-powered line is aimed toward the future of the earth. This collection reflects our collective goal to improve the state of the world by incorporating environmentally friendly materials.
As long as there is light, whether indoors or out, the battery will never need to be replaced. Leather straps from the Leather Working Group are available.
A minimum of 50% of the stainless steel used in this product is reclaimed.
The minute and hour hands, outer track, and dot indexes are all filled with luminescent material. This is an accurate timepiece with a three-hand Japanese solar movement can be found inside.
Skagen’s typically high standards of craftsmanship and design are evident in this timepiece. It comes in many different colours and strap materials from stainless steel mesh to leather.
Not bad for under $200.
10. Tissot Watch T-Touch Connect Solar Mens
The Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar is a smartwatch with a wide range of features that make it more than just a gadget, but a smart wristwatch that represents Tissot’s decades of expertise in the business. The Tissot wristwatch has a solar-powered dial that may last up to six months, and its ultra-low-power operating system was designed in Switzerland to provide us access to a world of essential features. There is a digital display for a perpetual calendar that shows the day, week, and month, as well as a second time zone, in addition to GPS and Bluetooth capabilities.
The T-Touch Connect Solar Solar Men’s Watch is made of titanium and sapphire crystal, with a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel with bright markings and a sapphire crystal glass. This watch has a diameter of 47.5mm and a thickness of 15.3mm and is water-resistant to 100 metres.
The sporty appearance is completed by the red rubber band. As a consequence, the Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar is always being improved and new functions are added to ensure that all Tissot smartwatch users enjoy the best experience possible. In light of this, the Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar Men’s watch has gotten the most current software version.
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 December 11, 2022
Solar watches usually have a long lifespan for a gadget, and generally, it can last for more than a decade without changing the battery, Still, protecting the quality of your watch’s battery is also integral to its health. So, even when you’re always on the run, take the time to expose the watch to sunlight or any light source for that matter. This way, the battery charges faster and conserves power better. Also, avoid storing these watches in complete darkness.
Emma Morris says
Hi Heizen, thanks for taking the time to comment and sharing your advice.
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Hello Emma, thanks for your article!
Your article is very informative for a solar watch lover like me.
Look forward to your upcoming articles.
Thank you again and wish you have a good day!