Best Solar Watches of 2021
Seiko Men’s Sport Solar-Powered Stainless Steel Watch
Casio Men’s Solar Sport Combination Watch
Garmin Tactix Delta Solar Smartwatch
Ian Fortey Updated on September 27, 2021.by
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A fashionable watch has been a well-loved accessory for decades upon decades. Advances in technology have seen some interesting evolutions in watches, allowing for both new looks and new technologies to power them.
Though most watches are traditionally powered by a battery that needs replacing, evolutions in solar technology have seen a rise in watch brands creating solar-powered watches for consumers today.
These watches are just as fashionable and functional as non-solar powered watches. You may be skeptical, but don’t be too turned off! There are some surprising benefits to utilizing solar power in watches.
These watches can appeal to a wide variety of users. Outdoor enthusiasts are looking to take advantage of their sun exposure, buyers interested in collecting solar technology, or even luxury buyers who want something high end for their collection. There are all kinds of iterations of solar-powered watches out there, meaning there’s likely something out there for you.
If you’ve ever been curious to learn more about what makes these watches tick, or if you’re currently scoping the market and are ready to buy, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’re going to overview everything you’d ever need to know about solar power watches.
We’ll look at how these watches work, what you should know before you purchase, and review some of our top picks for solar-powered watches available today. Let’s begin!
Our Solar-Powered Watch Recommendations
If you’re ready to shop, we’re ready to guide you along the way! Below you’ll find some of our favorite solar-powered watches available online today.
How Solar Power Watches Work
Before you invest in your new solar-powered watch, you might be curious to learn more about how these watches work! There are some key differences between solar-powered watches and traditional, battery-powered models.
A solar-powered watch is a watch that captures sunlight UV rays with a solar panel fixed onto the timepiece, so it can utilize solar energy to power the device. (You can learn more about how solar panel technology works here.)
The solar panel on the timepiece will capture UV rays, convert it to energy, and in most cases, will simultaneously power the watch while storing backup energy in an internal energy reserve. This is why solar-powered watches can still function for days, in some cases even months at a time, without prolonged exposure to sunlight.
This technology was first introduced onto the market by Roger Riehl, an inventor who came up with the first solar watch idea in 1968. This design was a success, and now solar-powered watches have been a popular fixture in the watch market since the 1970s. In fact, many watchmakers now have solar-powered watches as the primary kind of watch they sell.
Why Should You Buy?
What are the benefits of owning a solar-powered watch? There are a few to keep in mind.
No Battery Replacement
Perhaps the most beneficial in the eyes of solar-powered watch fans, these handy little devices do not require any kind of battery replacement. This is super handy, as it means less time on the user’s end when it comes to up-keep for their watch.
This feature is also one of the reasons solar-powered watches are considered an eco-friendly option. With these watches, you won’t need to dispose of any batteries, meaning less harmful battery chemicals ending up in landfills.
This form of battery power also works to keep these watches “timeless” for their users. There’s nothing quite so disappointing as finding an amazing watch in storage and being unable to use it until you go through the motions of replacing its battery.
Even if you have stored a solar-powered watch for years away from the light, it’s simple to put it in the sun and get it up and running again. You can enjoy your solar-powered watch for generations.
Easy to Charge
With a solar-powered watch, it’s super easy to keep them charged. A little bit of sunlight, and your watch should be good to go for days at a time! Plus, most solar watches can even be charged with exposure to non-UV sunlight, which we get into more in-depth below.
In fact, it’s accurate to say these watches are always charging, eliminating any stress about a sudden battery death affecting your device.
What to Know Before You Buy
Before you purchase your solar-powered watch, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind. Here are some factors you should know about before you invest:
Solar Watch vs. Atomic Solar Watch
When shopping for solar-powered watches, you may come across the term “atomic watch.” What exactly is an atomic solar watch, and how does it differ from a regular solar watch?
While both solar watches and atomic solar watches get their power through their built-in solar panels, they have differences in how their times are set. On a traditional solar-powered watch, you would adjust and set the time manually, depending on your time zone where you live.
This is normally down with a small dial on the side, which you turn to set the clock hands into their correct position. You may also have buttons that you can push to set a digital time.
In comparison, an atomic watch is a watch whose time is set via a radio signal. If you live in the US, there is an atomic clock at Fort Collins that keeps American atomic watches at the correct time.
Fun fact: The broadcast signal from Fort Collins is so large, it can signal to almost all of the USA, with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii.
The Fort Collins institute is a National Institute of Standards and Technology and prides itself on giving the most accurate times possible. The radio signals this institute emits will keep your atomic watch at the perfect time, being updated once a day.
This can be extremely beneficial for users looking for an accurate time. Perhaps most convenient, atomic watches do not need additional maintenance to the internal mechanisms that keep the watch ticking in good time.
It also removes the need to update your times on your device, which can come in handy around daylight savings time, or when the year turns. You’ll always have the right data and time with an atomic watch. (Of course, errors are not avoidable, but it will be as accurate as you can possibly buy!)
The combination of solar energy with an atomic watch’s features means atomic watches are the most maintenance-free kind you can purchase today.
Battery Replacements Needed
Though the solar-powered battery will definitely need to be replaced less frequently than a traditional battery, you will still need to keep battery replacements in mind if you want to keep your watch for a lifetime.
Solar-powered watches are always charging while in the presence of light. This is one of the things that make them so great. You can charge your watch without even trying and relish in the knowledge that your battery reserve will always have a little juice as long as you’ve spent some time in the sun.
However, the continually charging nature of your watch also means that your battery will degrade over time. Think of your cell phone- it’s common knowledge that keeping your phone on a constant charge can lead to faster battery degradation, and you need to replace it.
Some solar-powered watch manufacturers recommend replacing your watch battery roughly every 10 years. While this can be annoying, it is much less frequent than traditional batteries. If you’re interested in keeping your watch for life, be sure to keep this in mind.
Additional Features and Accessories
When shopping for a solar-powered watch, you should consider any additional features you may want in a watch. Many additional features can be found on most watch models that make them even more useful for their users.
If you’re an outdoorsy person looking to invest in a solar watch, finding something waterproof may be a feature to keep in mind. It is not uncommon to find waterproof solar-powered watches, making them an ideal match for users who like to spend time outside or on the water.
With the right amount of water resistance, you can even take these with you underwater (Though normally, a good dive-watch would be preferred in this instance.)
Watches can feature other beneficial outdoorsy features, such as the inclusion of digital compasses, calendar dates, stopwatch features, and even alarms! Try to keep in mind what would make a watch most useful for your day-to-day life and look for a watch with features that follow suit. The watches we’re going to outline below will have various features that can address your different needs.
Solar Power Watch FAQ
Still got questions? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions people have about solar-powered watches.
Do solar power watches work at night?
Yes, they do! As we mentioned above, solar-powered watches tend to have a fairly large internal power reserve cell, meaning they can hold a large amount of backup power. A full day of charging can typically let a solar-power watch last up to a week without any need to charge. You should have no issue using your solar-powered watch at night time.
Even if you do find yourself without access to sunlight to charge your watch for a long period of time, some solar watches can be charged by artificial light! We get more into that below.
Can solar power watches be repaired?
Yes, solar power watches can be repaired. Take your solar-powered watch to any watchmaker or repair place. They should be able to replace or repair any issues, including fixes to the band, refinishing the watch face or dial, or even replacing a pin.
You may want to take extra care to do your research to ensure your watch repair place can replace solar panels and solar-batteries specifically if that’s the repair you need. However, in most cases, solar-powered watches can be sent back to their manufacturers for such repairs.
How long does it take a solar power watch to charge?
How long your solar-powered watch will take to charge depends entirely on the specific watch. Depending on your watch’s price point, its size, and its manufacturer, you will have a different kind of batteries with different charging times.
Typically, it takes between 10-20 hours to completely charge your solar-powered watch. This may sound like a large amount of time, but this is the charge time for the battery and its reserved power cell that can work for days or weeks at a time. To determine how much power your watch has, most solar-powered watches will have a pointer bar that indicates how charged the watch is.
To charge your watch faster, you should place it in direct sunlight. Artificial light can charge your watch, but not nearly as quickly as actual sunlight. If you are an outdoorsy person, you should have no worries about finding time to charge your watch.
That’s what makes solar-powered watches so convenient- as long as you are out and about and exposing your watch to some form of light daily, you should have no worries about your watch’s battery life.
Can I charge my solar-powered watch with artificial light?
In some cases, yes, you can! Though the name might imply that you can only charge your watch with the sun or some kind of UV light, that is not always the case.
Many solar-powered watches can actually derive power from some forms of artificial light. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s details just in case, but artificial light can work in most cases.
That means there are no worries if you pull your watch out of a long storage period and need to quickly charge before a night out. Just give it some time under any form of light, and you should be good to go! You can learn more about the different kinds of lights that can power solar-technology here.