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Great Solar-Powered Watches for Summer Sun

Never wind them, don't worry about battery changes — simply strap on one of these great solar-powered watches and enjoy.

great solar powered watches

Without the constant winding required of mechanical watches or the dead batteries associated with regular old quartz, solar-powered watches represent some of the most practical, useful, and reliable timepieces made today. The inclusion of solar charging gives the wearer all the benefits of current quartz watch technology without the looming feeling of an expiration date on your watch that’s determined by its battery life.

Solar-powered watches absorb light through solar cells and convert it into energy that is stored in the batteries. You knew that. Perhaps not everyone knows, however, that while the common term is “solar,” any light source will do the job — and not just the sun. One can identify solar cells on the dials of many watches by their purplish tint — however, some companies, like Citizen, have developed clever technology whereby the solar cells are hidden but light absorption remains efficient, resulting in more options for traditional dials.

It is important to note one small caveat to the common assertion that one “never” needs to change the battery of a solar-powered watch. Parts of any watch, including batteries, will age just like every other item or material does. So while they will not run out of juice if kept sufficiently exposed to light, many batteries have an expected life of about 30 years before they begin to corrode. In comparison, the many moving parts of mechanical watches mean that they will also most likely require multiple services and often even part-replacement during the same period of time.

The solar watch market is today dominated by the major Japanese brands, namely Casio, Citizen, and Seiko — though the first solar watch was invented by an American engineer. Solar-charging technology can be found in some very affordable watches, but is generally a feature that adds to the price of similar models without it. Many high-end quartz watches from Japanese brands combine a range of technologies and features including solar charging. The below list includes inexpensive examples for outdoor activities as well as luxury-priced solar watches with many other features and levels of refinement, and even a couple from European brands.

Casio G-Shock GW6900-1

$89.00 (36% off)

Always look for the Tough Solar technology when shopping Casio G-Shock watches, as many of them offer it. The GW6900-1 is one of the most classic G-Shock forms, and it’s also an example of the quite affordable end of Casio’s solar-powered range. The Tough Solar does, however, command a premium over otherwise very similar models that do not offer solar charging. This is a robust watch that can be beat up and worn for years without worry, hassle, or much financial investment — one reason it is a top choice among soldiers and police around the world.
Case Diameter: 50mm
Water Resistance: 200m

One Eleven Field Watch


With a mission of sustainability, a youthful and casual style and solar charging, One Eleven watches feel generally made for summer. The brand offers a range of styles of which this field watch is a great example, with a case made of 85% recycled steel. Best of all, One Eleven’s products remain at the budget end of solar watches.
Case Diameter: 42mm
Water Resistance: 100m

Casio Protrek PRG-600


Don’t be shocked that Casio has multiple spots on this list: they represent some of the best options at multiple price points for solar watches. Protrek is like a brand of its own within the Casio universe, and like other watches that include the brand’s Tough Solar technology, it incorporates multiple other features like censors, a compass, and more. Protrek watches are made for outdoor activities, so plenty of sun will keep them healthy.
Case Diameter: 51.5mm
Water Resistance: 100m

Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver

$226.60 (40% off)

Notice that Citizen’s vast range of solar-powered watches, designated by their technology which they call Eco-Drive, are mostly analog, and that no solar cells are visible. This solid dive watch is a great example of an affordable and rugged offering that will serve you well for years, with no winding and no need for battery replacements.
Case Diameter: 42mm
Water Resistance: 200m


Seiko Prospex Solar Diver "Arnie"


Seiko’s Prospex collection distinguishes itself from the brand’s more basic models with premium materials and more robust construction. The "Arnie" further offers a tough-guy take on the typically practical character of many Prospex watches, having earned its nickname by featuring in multiple 1980s Arnold Schwarzenegger films. It’s a great solar option from Seiko that doesn’t necessitate shelling out for the full-featured, premium Astron line — especially in this version, with its fresh and summery white silicon strap.
Case Diameter: 47.8mm
Water Resistance: 200m


Casio G-Shock Frogman GWF-A1000


While one can dive well into luxury pricing territory with the G-Shock MR-G and MT-G ranges, professionally focused watches like the Frogman offer some of the same premium features — Tough Solar being one of them, of course. The newest Frogman takes the classic asymmetric design of the famous dive watch and gives it an analog dial for the first time, as well as sapphire crystal and the brand’s new carbon fiber-reinforced case structure.
Case Diameter: 53.3mm
Water Resistance: 200m

Junghans Max Bill Mega Solar


Junghans is one of the very few European companies that has invested in technology like solar charging and radio-controlled watches while also being strong in design (Bauhaus-influenced design, specifically, is their biggest claim to fame) and in mechanical watchmaking. They offer a different aesthetic and approach from the vast majority of their competitors, and watches like the Max Bill Mega Solar remain relatively affordable and showcase the brand’s strengths.
Case Diameter: 38mm
Water Resistance: 30m


Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar


Tissot’s T-Touch collection is unusual in the wider world of watches in that it includes a touch screen to operate a host of features integrated with analog hands — and Tissot is one of the few Swiss brands focusing on this kind of watch and technology. T-Touch watches are rugged and seem made for actual outdoor use, but the addition of solar charging on more recent models in combination with mobile connectivity truly rounds out a strong package.
Case Diameter: 47.5mm
Water Resistance: 100m

Seiko Astron 5X53 Dual-Time Sport Titanium


In the race among Japanese watch companies to make the ultimate practical watch with satellite and radio-synching technology, it’s ultimately the consumer who wins. The mighty Seiko’s entrant is the Astron, the latest edition of which is the 5x series. It includes a more compact titanium case than ever at 42.9mm wide and 12.2mm thick, solar charging, Seiko’s zaratsu polishing, sapphire crystal, and essentially every premium detail the brand offers at this price level.
Case Diameter: 42.8mm
Water Resistance: 200m


Cartier Tank Must SolarBeat


You probably didn't expect to see a name like Cartier on this list. Nobody expected it when Cartier announced new versions of one of the most iconic, classical and conservative dress watches ever with a solar-powered movement. Even more interesting was that the brand developed the tech in-house — and integrated it in way that wouldn't compromise the Tank's famous elegance. Those unmistakeable Roman numerals is where the light enters through the dial to charge the solar cells.

Case Diameter: 22mm
Water Resistance: 30m

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