If you’ve ever owned a watch that ran on a battery then you know it can be quite the process getting it changed. Typically, you have to take the watch to a jeweler or a watch repair shop and pay to have the person there replace the battery for you. The back of watches aren’t held on by simple screws that you can take out at home, so replacing the battery requires special tools. There is a solution to this though. Solar watches have small solar panels built into the face of the watch that can collect enough power from ambient light throughout the day to keep their internal mechanisms ticking practically indefinitely. Many of the best solar watch options come with an incredible array of features.
Let’s take a look at what features you should look out for and then we’ll review a curated roundup of ten of the best hand-picked solar watches.
Things to Keep in Mind
There are two things to keep in mind when picking the best solar watch, or any watch for that matter. The first thing to consider is what you’ll be wearing with the watch most of the time. If you wear mostly formal clothing like suits or even a polo one of the watches with a stainless steel band is probably a good bet. If you want to go with a more classic look a leather band might be even better like the one found on the Seiko Chronograph.
The second thing to account for is what you plan to do while wearing the watch. If you are wearing formal clothing you most likely won’t be doing anything too athletic, meaning the more formal watches typically aren’t as durable (there are exceptions, however). For someone who plans to be in the water something like the G-Shock Frogman watch is ideal with water resistance at depths of over 650 feet and numerous built-in functions to aid in diving such as tidal data and dive timers. Alternatively, if you plan to do a lot of hiking with the watch some models feature things like altimeters and in the case of the Tissot T-touch the watch can even forecast weather.
Ten Best Solar Watch Reviews
The first solar watch in our best solar watch lineup is the Tissot T-touch Expert. This comes from the lineup of Tissot watches that first featured touch technology in 1999. The touch face of the watch allows you to cycle through the watch’s seven functions. The watch has a sleek and modern overall design with a silver band and monochrome face. The aesthetic design of this watch makes it easy to match with almost anything ranging from formal to casual.
The features accessed through the touch controls start with two altimeters, one for current elevation and the other works like an odometer that can be reset to show how much elevation you have gained or descended through during a hike or other travel. The watch also has an alarm, two chronometers for lap timing, and a compass for navigation while in the wilderness. Finally, using the altimeter data and barometric pressure trends the watch can actually forecast the weather with an impressive degree of accuracy. All of these features plus the watch’s incredible water resistance make this a great option for outdoor enthusiasts who often need tools like a compass or altimeter.
The Casio G-Shock series is known for its unique look and exceptional durability. The resin band along with tough rubber and metal construction is raised just enough to defend the face of the watchmaking this a great watch for those who have a tendency of having their wrist bump into things scratching their otherwise impeccable watch.
The Gravity Master sports GPS technology which allows it to automatically detect it’s location and adjust to the appropriate time zone. Once it determines it’s location it uses radio waves to communicate with nearby stations where it can collect date and time information to set itself. This means you’ll never have to deal with changing the time on your watch again, very convenient if you often move between time zones. The watch also has a stopwatch and can stay in standby for up to 18 months without seeing the sun to charge.
Most solar watches have a distinctive solar panel grid under the face if you inspect them closely. If you’re not a fan of this look Seiko makes the Prospex watch which has a very well concealed solar panel that looks like a solid black face rather than the odd lines and blueish shimmer of most solar panels.
The watch has a rubberized band with sleek silver hardware and yellow highlights on some of the markings on the bezel. The bezel is marked with minutes and can rotate to allow for easy time tracking. Typically this feature is used by divers who need to keep track of how long they’ve been submerged, and this watch accommodates this use excellently with water resistance up to 20 BARs of pressure, which is over 650 feet in depth. The somewhat understated look of this watch is great for people who want a solar watch that will function flawlessly without getting in the way or drawing too much attention. In addition, the watch comes with Seiko’s three-year warranty.
Next in our roundup is another watch from the Casio G-shock line. This model, as its “Frogman” name implies, is intended to help those who frequently find themselves in or around water. The watch features the signature G-shock resin body and band which offers substantial protection from shocks and has also been rated for depths of 200 meters or about 660 feet.
The watch also boasts tide and moon information at the top of the face above the digital time readout. The digital readout also displays the day of the week and the day of the month in a Month/Day format. There are also several timers in the watch which are intended for timing dives but can be used for anything you want. This watch also has the same GPS and radio technology that the previous G-Shock had, allowing it to set itself when changing time zones so you never have to fidget with it.
Some people aren’t looking for an ultra-durable shock resistant diving watch, but rather want a watch that simply looks good and works great. If this reflects your sentiment towards watch design then this Bering timepiece is an excellent option with an incredibly elegant minimalist design that lacks many of the bells and whistles of some G-shock or Tissot watches, but looks great and will work for as long as you need it.
The watch features a blue mesh band with a blue face that is punctuated by white numbers and sparingly placed yellow accents. This watch also boasts a sapphire crystal making it much more scratch resistant than typical glass. Sapphire watches are known to resist scratches for years and are almost impossible to scuff. This is due to the fact that sapphire is incredibly hard, so hard in fact that even metal can’t affect it under normal circumstances. This means that tossing the watch into a pocket or bag with keys or cables shouldn’t be too much of a concern. This watch also has a 6-month power reserve in case you store it for a while and it doesn’t get to recharge itself.
If you want a watch with the modern features and solar charging but still want to preserve a classic look the Seiko Solar Chronograph is a great option. This watch features a dark leather strap with a stainless steel case. The large face is 42mm in diameter and has a black center that is busily occupied by three separate faces for stopwatch timing and setting an alarm. Around the dark circle in the center is a white border that features a numberless design.
Although this watch was not designed for durability it retains an impressive level of scratch and water resistance. The watch is rated for depths of up to 100 meters, or 330 feet. The face is covered by a Hardlex crystal which isn’t quite as tough as sapphire but is still highly scratch resistant.
Moving back into more durability oriented watches we return, yet again, to the Casio G-shock series. This time we’re looking at the Rangeman watch which, again, features the tell-tale resin band and case. This time, however, the five buttons on the side of the watch’s casing sport a textured stainless steel construction making them a very nice accent to the black resin.
The Rangeman also features Casio’s triple sensor technology, which allows it to display altitude, temperature, a compass, an altimeter, and more. The time readout is digital but is managed by a very accurate quartz movement. This watch can store up to five alarms a day and has a countdown timer and stopwatch that reads with a tenth of a second accuracy. The face also displays date information and can be set up to read in 24 hour time rather than the 12 hour am/pm format. The Rangeman also boasts the same radio wave tech as the other G-shocks in our lineup that allows it to set itself to the correct time even when changing time zones.
If you need a watch to wear with more formal clothing then the Pulsar Silverstone solar watch is a great choice. This watch features a simple but formal and sophisticated look and works as a functional timepiece without too many extra accoutrements. The design features a stainless steel band that blends into the stainless steel case. The front of the watch is an elegant blue, and a darker blue surrounds the crystal on the front. The face of the watch is numberless and has luminous white hands are marks for hours and minutes. At the 3 o’clock position is a date counter. The watch also indicates that it is water resistant to 100 meters.
The last G-Shock watch in our list is the G-Shock Tough, one of the flagships of the G-Shock lineup. This watch has a slightly more streamlined design than most of the other G-Shock watches but retains its distinct style and, as the name might suggest, it’s impeccable toughness. This watch also has the same automatic time detection feature of the other G-shocks and will automatically update it’s time 6 times a day as long as it can receive a signal.
The watch features a digital readout that has an electro-luminescent panel that automatically illuminates itself when you turn your wrist to look at the watch. This particular model has both 12 hour and 24 hour time modes for those more accustomed to military time, and can also be used as a stopwatch with 1/100 of a second accuracy. Like all other G-Shock watches this model can withstand a 10-meter fall and up to 20 BARs of water pressure.
To finish off our roundup we chose the Seiko Le Grand, an incredibly tasteful and stylish look that is well at home with any formal wear. The stainless steel band and case compliment the regal blue of the face excellently. The blue face is accented with stainless steel roman numerals at the even numbers and thin lines at the odd numbers. The hands of the watch are all also reflective steel, and even the date display at the 3 o’clock position is reflective metal. The Le Grand may seem somewhat anemic when it comes to features but it more than makes up for it with it’s gorgeous design.