Top 20 Most Reliable Solar Watches For Your Daily Travelling Needs
Watches have come a long way in terms of technological advancements. Some watches can now connect to phones, while others have multiple complications jam-packed into a single watch. Not only do these technologies provide ease and convenience, but each unique feature adds to a sophisticated design without overshadowing the brand’s identity. One innovation that has been developed over the years is the use of solar power to charge watches. Several watch brands, including luxury ones, have manufactured high-precision solar watches that have made use of batteries completely redundant. Some might see this as a small feature, or maybe even an unnecessary one, but the strengths of solar watches are truly not to be underestimated.
One of the main selling points of a solar-powered watch is its reliability in any situation. You can rest easy knowing that your watch will not die on you during any outdoor activities or while on an adventure. Not only that; these solar watches can even save your life if ever you find yourself in a dire situation such as being stranded or lost. Casio and Seiko are two famous watch brands that have pioneered the manufacture of watches with solar capabilities. These brands are also known to produce affordable solar watches that are accessible to both beginners and enthusiasts without skimping on the overall quality of each timepiece.
With that in mind, let us go over the history of solar watches to find out more about how this technology came to be.
Top 20 Solar Watches in the Market
1. Seiko Astron GPS Solar Power Reserve Ref. SBXB101
First on the list is the Seiko Astron GPS Solar Power Reserve Ref. SBXB101. It is marketed as the first solar-powered GPS watch in the world. Seiko is one of the many watch brands that manufactures a variety of solar watches which offer the optimal functions necessary for both the outdoors and the indoors.
The Seiko Astron GPS Solar Ref. SBXB101 has a sporty design that simultaneously exudes class as well. It boasts a 45mm hard-coated titanium case that is complete with a ceramic finish. This is an analog watch, complete with sub-dials that indicate the day of the week, dual time, power level, world time, and lastly, a GPS function. The bezel is marked with several cities across the globe as a way to identify each respective timezone. The black dial is complemented with metallic hands and markers that blend perfectly with the overall energetic design of the watch. This watch is equipped with the X853 solar quartz movement, which is different from a regular quartz movement due to the solar cell embedded within its mechanism. This Seiko Astron watch also possesses great durability due to the nature of its hardy titanium case as well as its 100-metre water resistance capacity.
The price of the Seiko Astron GPS Solar Ref. SBXB101 is set at $1,600 USD, which is quite a reasonable price for such a great travelling companion.
2. Casio G-Shock G-Steel Solar Ref. GST-W300G-1A9JF
Casio goes hand-in-hand with Seiko when it comes to solar watches. Not only do these brands produce affordable timepieces, but they also manufacture high-precision solar watches with innovative features. The Casio G-Shock G-Steel Solar Ref. GST-W300G-1A9JF is a hefty watch that boasts a 49.3mm gold-plated stainless steel and black polymer case. To maintain its consistent colour scheme, this watch also has a black dial with gold-plated hands and hour markers. It has a mixture of analog and digital indicators, which is a mainstay in Casio watches.
As with most solar watches, especially G-Shocks, this watch is jam-packed with features that are perfect for travellers and adventurers alike. It has a chronograph, world time, day and date, and power reserve indicator, and is radio-controlled for the accurate synchronisation of time. This watch is equipped with a 55524 solar quartz movement which allows the watch to last for a few months when fully charged. This watch has a retail price of $300 USD. It may be far cheaper than a Seiko solar watch, but the quality of this timepiece exceeds a lot of expectations—making it one of the best solar watches available today.
3. Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar Ref. T121.420.44.051.00
The Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar Ref. T121.420.44.051.00 is Tissot’s way of taking a big step forward with regards to combining technology and horology. They aimed to create an interactive tactile watch that adheres to modern design standards. This watch basically acts as an extension of a smartphone once connected. Heralded by the Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar, such innovation has actually become quite prevalent throughout the watch industry. It may not be the norm yet, but the number of smartwatches being produced is steadily increasing every year.
Tissot’s solar watch entry comes with a solar-charging capability along with several more functions that make this watch perfect for the average person. It is a fairly durable watch, with a 47.3mm antimagnetic titanium case, a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel, and 100m of water resistance. The indicators on this watch are quite simple at first glance. It has both hands and hour markers, but each hour marker has a corresponding function that activates once pressed. Notable features include a compass, barometer, eco mode, notifications, time zones, and many more. Since this is a solar-powered watch, it is equipped with a solar quartz movement called the ETA E32.001. As for the price, the Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar Ref. T121.420.44.051.00 retails at $1,000 USD—a reasonable price for such a high-utility watch.
4. Citizen Solar Eco-Drive Ref. AQ4020-54Y
The Citizen Solar Eco-Drive Ref. AQ4020-54Y is an exquisite solar-powered watch that deviates from the usual sporty and robust designs. It does not have any of the outstanding features that you can typically find in an average solar-powered watch. In fact, this watch focuses more on elegance rather than utility. It has a 37.5mm super titanium case and bracelet with a sapphire glass that was made for optimal legibility. The dial is what makes the Citizen Solar Eco-Drive Ref. AQ4020-54Y is such a classy watch. It sports metallic hands and applied indices that complement the Tosa Washi dial well. Tosa Washi is a traditional Japanese handcrafted paper. Since the dial is made of paper, its thin nature allows sunlight to be absorbed by the compact solar panels inside the watch. This timepiece uses the Citizen Quartz Eco-Drive A060, which has a standard solar cell fitted within the movement. It is a simple solar-powered watch that provides elegance on par with most dress watches on the market. This Citizen watch currently retails at $2,500 USD but cheaper pieces can likely be found in second-hand markets.
5. Seiko Presage Solar Chronograph Ref. SSC739P1
The Seiko Presage Solar Chronograph Ref. SSC739P1 is a stylish solar-powered watch that can serve as your companion to outdoor activities or as a dress watch on certain events. One of the prominent features of this watch is its overcharge prevention function. This function limits the amount of solar energy entering the solar cell so that the cell will not become damaged from overcharging. Seiko took into consideration all sorts of scenarios when developing this watch, including the possibilities of weather change or the wearer not having the time to go outdoors. That is why this watch can store up to 6 months’ worth of energy, so it can last quite a while without the need to go outside and replenish the power reserve.
This Seiko Presage timepiece has a 44m hard-coated stainless steel case with a rotating bezel. It boasts a green dial with a date aperture at the 3 o’clock position and chronograph sub-dials that indicate 60 minutes and 1/20 second increments. The calfskin leather strap adds more to the casual style of the watch. This watch is also powered by the V176 solar quartz movement. The Seiko Prospex Solar Chronograph Ref. SSC739P1 has a retail price of $370 USD. It is a great entry-level solar watch that is both affordable and stylish at the same time.
6. Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar Edition Ref. 010-02157-24
The Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar Edition Ref. 010-02157-24 is another solar smartwatch that offers great utility with a variety of handy functions. It is a digital watch that focuses more on outdoor activities. This watch has a 51mm titanium case which is incredibly durable despite its tactile glass screen. Since it is a smartwatch, it has several features on top of its basic timekeeping functions. Many of these functions cater towards a specific sport or activity such as treadmill, cycling, hiking, skiing, and many more. The Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar Edition Ref. 010-02157-24 is truly a modern take on adventurer watches and is perfect for those who live for the thrill. The only downside to this watch is its power reserve. Once fully charged by solar energy, it can only last for 6 hours due to its energy-consuming features. That said, the retail price for this solar watch is currently $950 USD, a fitting price for a high utility watch.
7. Seiko Lukia Wave Solar Radio Ref. SSQV020
The Seiko Lukia Wave Solar Radio Ref. SSQV020 is another Seiko entry with a design that is massively different from the ones mentioned before. It has a slender 28.5mm stainless steel case with a thin silver dial to complement the rose gold accents throughout the watch. This watch comes with the usual time indicators, such as hands and hour markers as well as the date aperture found at the 3 o’clock position.
The radio-controlled function of this watch allows it to be perfectly synchronised with global time to maintain an accurate reading of time through radio signals. In addition, the solar capacity of this watch allows it to last for 6 months or so. This ladies’ watch may not be the best choice for outdoor activities or sports, but it makes up for that with its elegance as a dress watch. The Seiko Lukia Wave Solar Radio Ref. SSQV020 is priced at $470 USD, which is a great price for those who are looking for a proper, low-maintenance solar dress watch.
8. Casio G-Shock Bluetooth Ref. MTG-B1000BD-1AJF
The Casio G-Shock Bluetooth Ref. MTG-B1000BD-1AJF is a 51.7mm polymer and stainless steel watch that is built with the signature durability of Casio watches. Its black dial is complete with time indicators like the hands and hour markers, chronographs, world time, power indicator, and a perpetual calendar that lasts up to the year 2100. The watch is also equipped with a Bluetooth feature and the ability to receive radio signals to ensure the accurate synchronisation of time. The G-Shock Bluetooth Ref. MTG-B1000BD-1AJF is powered by the 5544 solar quartz movement, which is the main movement used for solar-powered G-Shock watches. This watch currently retails at $790 USD. It is slightly more expensive than other G-Shock solar watches due to its Bluetooth function.
9. Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar II Ref. T110.420.47.041.00
The Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar II Ref. T110.420.47.041.00 is technically an upgraded version of the aforementioned Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar watch. This watch comes with updated features and more accurate tactile functions. It is equipped with a 45mm titanium case and a ceramic bezel that is marked with compass indicators. The T-Touch Expert Solar II is a hybrid watch that has both a digital and an analog display. It is powered by the ETAE84.301 quartz calibre, which also allows for the solar capabilities of this particular timepiece. This is a very durable and hefty watch, making it a great companion to have for hiking and even mountain climbing expeditions. The price for the Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar II Ref. T110.420.47.041.00 is a little on the expensive side. For a retail price of $1,195 USD, this solar watch offers some of the most essential features needed for intense outdoor activities.
10. Seiko Prospex Lowercase Limited 5000 Ref. SBDN045
The Seiko Prospex Lowercase Limited 5000 Ref. SBDN045 is a solar-powered diver watch and is the first of its kind on this list. It has a 46.3mm hard-coated stainless steel case with a thickness of 14.2mm. This watch has a degree of heft to it, to ensure durability on both land and underwater. In addition, it comes with a 200m water resistance rating, which is pretty good for a diver watch. It also has a one-way rotating bezel for timing purposes underwater. Other features include a 24-hour sub-dial, chronograph of 1 hour with ⅕ second increment, a date aperture, and an overcharge prevention function. This solar-powered watch can last for 6 months once fully charged. It is a very useful watch for diving, especially for those working with a tight budget. The Seiko Prospex Lowercase Limited 5000 Ref. SBDN045 is priced at $465 USD, which is quite affordable for a dive watch.
11. Casio G-Shock Solar Origin Ref. GMW-B5000-1JF
If you are into classic aesthetics, the Casio G-Shock Solar Origin Ref. GMW-B5000-1JF may be the one for you. It makes use of the design of the very first G-Shock DW5000C model, turning it into a full metal watch with added modern features like Bluetooth. It is a very straightforward timepiece that comes in a sturdy 49.3mm rectangular stainless steel case. Since this is a remake of the original G-Shock watch, it retains the same digital functions. In addition, it has a 200m water resistance rating, which is more than enough for a non-diver watch. Equipped with Casio’s signature technologies like the Tough Solar and MultiBand 6, these timepieces remain one of the best solar-powered anniversary watches ever made by Casio. The retail price for this watch is only $550 USD.
12. Casio Edifice Solar with Bluetooth Ref. EQB-501XBL-2AJF
The Casio Edifice Solar with Bluetooth Ref. EQB-501XBL-2AJF is a smartphone link watch that uses Bluetooth to synchronise time. This timepiece comes with a 48mm stainless steel case that is paired with a classy brown leather strap to add to its stylish demeanour. It also sports a vibrant blue dial replete with chronograph sub-dials, a date aperture, a day of the week sub-dial, a speed indicator, and a 24-hour sub-dial. This watch has a standard water resistance capacity of 100 metres. The Casio Edifice Solar with Bluetooth Ref. EQB-501XBL-2AJF currently costs $330 USD in retail.
13. Casio Pro Trek Triple Sensor Ref. PRW-7000FC-1JF
The Casio Pro Trek Triple Sensor Ref. PRW-7000FC-1JF is one of the best solar watches from Casio. Not only is this watch optimal for trekking and other such thrilling activities, but it is also very useful at night or in the dark. The design scheme of this watch is minimalistic, prioritising readability at all times. It comes in a 52mm black resin and stainless steel case which gives it a stealthy look that blends in well with the dark. It has both analog and digital indicators to ensure legibility during both the day and the night. One of its most prominent features is its Fishing Time function, which lets the wearer know the best time to go fishing. And to complement that function, this watch also has a 200m water resistance rating for maximal protection. The Casio Pro Trek Triple Sensor Ref. PRW-7000FC-1JF retails at $570 USD. It is a stylish watch that can be used for both casual events or during an adventurous outdoor trip.
14. Seiko Prospex Black Series Limited Edition Tuna Ref. SNE577P1
The Seiko Prospex Black Series Limited Edition Tuna Ref. SNE577P1 is yet another Seiko entry in the world of solar watches. One of Seiko’s most famous dive watches is the Seiko Tuna, whose shape resembles a can of tuna, hence its name. The Tuna design would later be used as part of the Black Series, this time with an added solar-charging capability, to create the Seiko Prospex Black Series Limited Edition Tuna Ref. SNE577P1. This watch has a 46.7mm stainless steel case with a black PVD finish. The rotating bezel is the most prominent part of the whole watch, which results in a smaller, more compact black dial. Compared to the original Tuna, this watch is equipped with the V157 solar-powered calibre movement that offers 10 months of power reserve. Seiko only manufactured 5,000 pieces of this watch, making it quite a difficult piece to get your hands on. Your best bet would be auctions or pre-owned pieces from the secondhand market. The retail price of the Seiko Prospex Black Series Limited Edition Tuna Ref. SNE577P1 is $390 USD.
15. Casio Oceanus Manta Ref. OCW-S4000F-7AJF
The Casio Oceanus Manta Ref. OCW-S4000F-7AJF does not deviate much from the usual designs of Casio. It has a sleek 42.3mm stainless steel case that perfectly complements its white dial. The watch’s hands and hour markers are also in white, with blue accents to adhere to its “ocean” aesthetic. Much like other solar-powered Casio watches, particularly the G-Shock, the Casio Oceanus Manta Ref. OCW-S4000F-7AJF is complete with functions such as dual-time, a date aperture, a day of the week sub-dial, and a 24-hour sub-dial. This watch is also equipped with Casio’s Tough Solar technology, which allows it to recharge using any form of a light source. It does not necessarily need the sun, as even artificial light from a simple light bulb will do the trick. This timepiece retails at $1,000 USD.
16. Citizen Promaster Sky Ref. CB5860-27E
As far as aviation solar watches go, the Citizen Promaster Sky Ref. CB5860-27E uses the Eco-Drive technology which allows its power cell to recharge using any light source, much like Casio’s Tough Solar feature. Unlike many aviation watches which are equipped with mechanical movements, this watch has an E660 solar quartz movement, which is incredibly precise while also providing a power reserve of 7200 hours. The black dial of this watch is filled to the brim with markings and indicators that correspond to certain timezones, as well as the usual hands and hour markers. It also uses a light brown leather strap to emphasize its classy design. The Citizen Promaster Sky Ref. CB5860-27E currently has a price tag of $350 USD, which is very affordable if you are looking for a stylish solar-powered watch that is considered an alternative for luxury aviation watches.
17. Seiko Brightz Flight Expert Ref. SAGA251
The Seiko Brightz Flight Expert Ref. SAGA251 is another solar watch from Seiko that boasts a sleek design complete with a black leather strap. Despite its name, this watch is not actually considered an aviation watch. Instead, it is more of a dual-time watch because of the timezones of multiple cities provided on its bezel. It is a straightforward timekeeper that is perfect for those who frequently travel overseas. It provides an easy-to-use dual-time function that allows you to change quickly from one timezone to another. It has a 43.2mm hard-coated titanium case with a black dial to complete its simple yet striking black-and-white motif. It has the same features as other Seiko solar watches and has over 10 months of power reserve. The price of the Seiko Brightz Flight Expert Ref. SAGA251 is $700 USD, although cheaper versions can be found in secondhand markets.
18. Citizen Exceed Eco-Drive Ref. AT9110-58A
The Citizen Exceed Eco-Drive Ref. AT9110-58A is a sophisticated solar-powered watch that stands out for its World Timer function. It sports a beguilingly elegant design, with a 41.3mm antimagnetic Super Titanium case that perfectly complements its silver dial. The dial is accentuated with vibrant blue skeleton hands and Roman numeral hour markers applied with luminous material, which adds a certain exquisite flair to the watch. Since it has a World Time function, this timepiece boasts two dual-time sub-dials around the rim of the dial that allow you to track any timezone of your choice, along with a date display at the 3 o’clock position. The Citizen Exceed Eco-Drive Ref. AT9110-58A retails at $1,050 USD. It is a classy solar timepiece that can double as both a dress watch to bring to your formal occasions, and as a timekeeper to accompany you on all your international travels.
19. Seiko Solar Black Dial Ref. SNE485P1
If you prefer simple timekeepers over chronographs jam-packed with many complications, then the Seiko Solar Black Dial Ref. SNE485P1 is the watch for you. It is a 43mm hard-coated stainless steel case with yellow gold plating on its crown and bracelet links. This watch also boasts a sleek, clean black dial with just the essential timekeeping components including gold-plated hands and hour markers, and a date aperture at 3 o’clock. Since this watch is powered by a V157 solar quartz calibre movement, it can also last for over 10 months when fully charged. Plus, this timepiece is also equipped with the overcharge prevention function in order to prevent any damage from being done to the solar cell when overcharging. The straightforward design of this watch deviates completely from most of the utility solar watches on this list and is perfect for those seeking a charming everyday timekeeper. The Seiko Solar Black Dial Ref. SNE485P1 can be purchased for a budget-friendly price of $230 USD.
20. Citizen Exceed Eco-Drive Ref. CC3054-04E
To finish off our list of amazing solar watches, let’s talk about the Exceed Eco-Drive Ref. CC3054-04E, the exceptional timepiece released in celebration of Citizen’s 100th year anniversary. This solar-powered watch sports a 43mm gold-plated titanium case that is paired with a classy light brown crocodile leather strap. Even at first glance, it is easy to determine that this is a dress watch with its exquisite design. And since this is a commemorative timepiece, Citizen doubled down on its gold accents—particularly on its hands and hour markers, adding to the watch’s aura of luxury. It is equipped with several notable functions such as a day-date display, GPS, World Time, and a power reserve indicator. The Exceed Eco-Drive Ref. CC3054-04E is a limited edition watch, making it quite a rare piece. As such, it has a retail price of $1,300 USD, which is a reasonable price for such a rare and elegant commemorative solar watch.
Pros and Cons of Solar Watches
- Have a longer power reserve that can last for months.
- No longer necessary to change batteries every now and then.
- Perfect for outdoor activities due to the included features and complications.
- More affordable compared to automatic watches
- Slightly expensive compared to watches with regular quartz movements.
- Come in large case sizes to accommodate the power cells. The size difference may prove to be a problem for those with smaller wrists.
History of Solar Watches
The use of solar energy has been around as far back as the 7th century B.C. It may not have been utilised in quite the same way as today, but solar energy was harnessed for various situations, albeit in a far more primitive form. For instance, it can be said that the sundial is the very first “solar-powered” watch since it heavily relies on both sunlight and the sun’s position. From then on, the use of the sun further evolved into a more sustainable form of energy. Solar energy became a reliable source of power that some hoped could completely replace the use of electricity. Solar panels are a necessity, for the most part, but several innovations have paved the way for more compactly designed solar panels. This has allowed watch manufacturers to fit these miniaturised solar panels onto a watch, thus leading to the birth of solar watches.
The first instance of a solar-powered wristwatch was introduced in 1972. It was invented by Roger W. Riehl, an American engineer who created the watch in the comfort of his home. This watch, aptly named the Synchronar 2100, had a distinct stainless steel design that could be associated with the “space technology” commonly portrayed in movies during that time. This was a state-of-the-art wristwatch created through the genius of one man’s mind. The reason for the “2100” in its name was because of its perpetual calendar, which could last up to the year 2100. Despite being the first solar-powered watch, Riehl actually placed his focus on the calendar function, aiming to extend its longevity. That said, the Synchronar 2100’s solar capability was an undeniably impressive feat, prompting several brands to follow in Riehl’s footsteps. Known wearers of a Synchronar 2100 include Paul McCartney and the president of Egypt, Mohamed Hosni Mubarak. This watch was such an iconic trendsetter that it lasted up until the year 2005, which was also the same year in which Riehl passed away.
Ultimately, the Synchronar 2100 was an impressive watch that jumpstarted the development and production of solar watches in the industry. Several brands went on to create their own rendition of solar watches, which opened several doors to the possibilities of newer technology. Without further ado, here are the top 20 solar-powered watches currently available on the market.
Solar watches are truly one of the best innovations in the watch industry. Although electricity and battery-powered watches are still prevalent, solar watches are the more sustainable route forward. With solar watches, you do not have to run around looking for replacement batteries in a watch store. All you have to do is place the watch under the sun and your solar-powered timepiece will be fully charged. Its use of eco-friendly solar technology is perfect for people with an active outdoor lifestyle. With a wide variety of designs and top-notch brands to choose from, timepieces with solar capabilities are definitely on their way to dominating the watch industry.
Do you consider yourself a nature-lover of sorts? Check out our article on the best tactical watches for an avid outdoor enthusiast!
All images courtesy of The Watch Company Featured image by Unsplash