Time never stops and we move along with it. But, if your watch suddenly stops working due to a dead battery you’ll lose track of time. A solution to this problem is the solar-powered watch. These watches have a small solar panel that absorbs light to power the watch, eliminating the need for batteries. When we think of quality solar watches, a few brands immediately come to mind: Seiko, Citizen and Casio.
Seiko Solar and Citizen Eco-Drive watches have been competitors in the solar watch market for the past few decades. Casio‘s Tough Solar is also very popular, especially in its G-Shock line of tactical watches. Some newer competitors have entered the market in the past few years which we’ve also included on our list.
If you’re looking for a feature-rich smartwatch, Garmin released a line of solar-powered watches in 2020 and we’ve included those below. If you are interested in solar-powered watches from a sustainability aspect, we recommend you check out Solios – all of their stylish watches use solar movements.
We’ve included several different watch styles on our list: from elegant dress watches to more rugged pilot, dive, and tactical timepieces.
Best Solar-Powered Watches
Citizen Corso Eco-Drive Chronograph Watch
Keeping it simple with a sophisticated style is the sporty Citizen Corso Eco-Drive Chronograph
It has a minimalist aesthetic with its clean dial that has a sunray design in dark blue, which stunningly changes into different shades with the reflection of light, matched with a stainless steel case and bracelet. Making up its dial window is a sapphire crystal that prevents glares and scratches.
The convenience to this Japanese quartz watch is with its 5-month power reserve solar-powered feature, it provides precise timekeeping along with an added chronograph; tachymeter; and date display.
Its water resistance to 100 meters makes it suitable for water activities, such as swimming and snorkeling.
Solios – The Solar White
Solios focuses on creating elegant minimalist solar watches. The Canadian watch brand makes its timepieces as sustainable as possible, allowing them to become the first B Corp certified watch company first watch company. On top of that, Solios is committed to protecting one acre of rainforest for each watch sold.
The brand’s sustainable watches are scratch-resistant, thanks to a sapphire crystal coating, as well as being water-resistant to up to 30 meters. The case, made of 316L stainless steel, is 7.5mm thin which is impressive for a solar watch that offers a 6 months power reserve.
The watches come beautifully packed in a box handmade in Montreal, made from 100% recycled and recyclable cardboard. You can choose among their interchangeable and innovative straps, from magnetic mesh, hemp nato or eco-vegan leather, making this an accessory that will suit your style every single day.
Seiko Prospex Padi Solar Watch
We have another watch under the diving category from the brand synonymous to diver’s watches, Seiko, the Prospex Padi Solar Watch. This time with a pop of blue together with stainless steel in a sleek design.
This 10-month power reserve solar-powered Japanese quartz watch has all the features a diver needs. From the 200-meter water resistance; unidirectional rotating bezel with a luminous pip at the 60-minute mark; large and luminous hands and hour markers; down to the tight seal of the screw-down crown and screw-down case back for extra water resistance, it’s got it all.
In addition, a date display is located at its 3 o’clock position, which is magnified by the Hardlex crystal.
The Garmin Instinct is one of the GPS smartwatches we’ve recommended several times on our website. Its tough build quality (military standard 810 for thermal, shock, and water resistance ) and a long list of features make it a great choice for anyone looking for a reliable outdoor watch.
The Garmin Instinct Solar takes the smartwatch to the next level. Still having that military-grade toughness, it now also boasts of extended battery life, bolder designs, high-contrast displays, and even new activity-specific editions: the Instinct Solar – Surf Edition and the Instinct Solar – Tactical Edition. With these editions, you can train smarter and record your activities more accurately. Another significant addition is the Pulse Ox2 sensor that can determine the wearer’s oxygen absorption and body battery.
Casio G-Shock G-Steel Watch
The Casio G-Shock G-Steel Watch is an excellent combination of nifty technological advancements, durability, and sleek design.
This Japanese quartz watch is powered by Casio’s Tough Solar technology. An interesting fact about this technology is that it allows their solar-powered watches to run for approximately two years in a single full charge. And this technology is so powerful, that from even the weakest light source, power can be drawn from.
It’s also pretty cool that the hands-on analog-digital dial can be moved away from the digital displays to be able to read its digital contents with its hand shift feature.
It has a unique layer guard structure that is present in the design of the G-Steel series. This ups the durability of the watches in the said series with an extra reinforcement of shock resistance.
In the layer guard structure, two layers are made with the use of different materials for the bezel. In the models with stainless steel in the upper part of its bezel, a shock-absorbing resin is placed beneath it. As for the models where resin is the upper part, fine resin serves as the mounting.
The ingenious layer guard structure not only strengthened the G-Steel but also made possible, a variety of designs for the series. This particular model we have here has a bezel made of stainless steel and black resin fixed on its stainless steel case.
A scratch-resistant mineral crystal dial window covers its black analog-digital dial with silver-tone hands and markers. The dial comes with a double LED light. And a black resin is the material for the strap.
As with every G-Shock, in this watch is a plethora of handy features like five daily alarms; hourly time signal; full auto-calendar; 1/100-second stopwatch; countdown timer; and world time.
It can also perform well underwater with its 200-meter water resistance.
Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk Dual Time Watch
As Citizen’s series of professional-grade sports watches, the Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk is equipped with functionality and rugged construction for taking on adventures in the air; land; and sea.
And here, we have a watch from the series, something for pilots in a sleek design with fine details on its black dial together with stainless steel and scratch-resistant mineral crystal, the Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk Dual Time Watch.
Looking into its solar-powered feature, this Japanese quartz watch has 6 months of power reserve.
It has the essential features for a pilot, such as the pilot’s slide rule inner chapter ring that’s operated by the crown at the 8 o’clock position and dual time display. And for checking the date is its date display at the 3 o’clock position. These features and design landed this watch on our list of best pilot watches.
It’s designed to cater to pilots, but it also has 200-meter water resistance good for the sea. See the full line of Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Watches Here
Seiko Solar Stainless Steel Chronograph Diver’s Watch
We also have something here for divers, the handsome Seiko Solar Stainless Steel Chronograph Diver’s Watch makes an excellent timepiece for underwater adventures and at the same time, also makes a nice accessory to match with casual attire or even with a suit.
As a solar-powered diver’s watch, this watch won’t disappoint with its 6-month power reserve and excellent features for diving.
This quintessential diver’s watch is equipped with 200-meter water resistance along with other necessary features to back it up. Its screw-down crown and a screw-down case back reinforce its water resistance. And for accurately keeping track of time underwater, it has a unidirectional rotating bezel with a luminous pip at the 60-minute mark and large luminous hands and markers.
It runs with a Japanese quartz movement and provides other handy features, such as a chronograph and date display between the 4 and 5 o’clock positions.
Making this watch durable is a scratch-resistant Hardlex crystal for the dial window, stainless steel for the case and bracelet, and a black ion-plated top ring for the bezel.
Garmin Fēnix® 6 Solar
The Garmin Fenix 6 is a particularly impressive and versatile smartwatch which is why it was included in many of our best-of-watch lists for sports and adventure seekers – from surfing to survival.
The Garmin Fenix 6 Solar edition is built with the Garmin Power Glass solar charging lens and comes with a customizable Power Manager mode. The watch lasts at least nine days in smartwatch mode indoors and up to 16 days when exposed to the sun. Its activity profile was also updated to provide more choices, specifically surf, mountain bike, and indoor climb.
Additional upgrades on the Fenix 6 Solar are the Advanced Sleep Monitoring capability and the Pulse Ox sensor. It also now has a specialized widget that shows the wearer’s stress score and sleeps insights.
Casio Pro Trek Tough Solar Digital Watch
The Casio Pro Trek Tough Solar Digital Watch is a robust timepiece packed with great features for the outdoors.
As it’s made of resin and scratch-resistant mineral crystal, reinforced with shock resistance, this watch is definitely durable.
Along with this watch’s Tough Solar technology are equally exceptional features handy for your outdoor escapades.
It has the Triple Sensor feature that includes an altimeter/barometer, compass, and thermometer that can guide you in your adventure. Hand in hand with its 200-meter water resistance is its tide and moon graph/data for checking the conditions for water activities. It displays information both in numerical and trend graph data along with unique arrow icons for indicating barometric pressure patterns.
Aside from those outdoorsy features, this watch also comes with five daily alarms; hourly time signal; full auto-calendar till 2099; 1/100-second stopwatch; countdown timer; and world time.
This digital Japanese quartz watch tells time with Multi-Band 6 atomic timekeeping, so it’s extremely accurate. And to see everything clearly, even in the dark, it comes with a full auto EL backlight with Afterglow.
Casio Rangeman G-Shock Solar Atomic Watch
Equipped with nature-related features and rugged construction, the Casio Rangeman G-Shock Solar Atomic Watch makes an excellent watch for hiking.
This Tough Solar watch has an altimeter/barometer, compass, thermometer, and sunrise and sunset time to suit a hiker’s needs. And it’s designed with resin and scratch-resistant mineral crystal along with the reinforcement of G-Shock’s trademark shock resistance to withstand extreme conditions. It’s water-resistant to 200 meters good for engaging in water activities like swimming and snorkeling to add to that.
With its Multi-Band 6 atomic timekeeping, this digital Japanese quartz watch will never fail to provide accurate time.
Plus, it has other terrific features in such as five daily alarms with one snooze alarm, hourly time signal, full auto-calendar till 2099, 1/100-second stopwatch; countdown timer, and world time.
It’s made with a full auto LED Super Illuminator backlight with Afterglow for readability in the dark.
Casio Pro Trek Solar-Powered Watch
The Casio Pro Trek Solar-Powered Watch is one of the Triple Sensor Version 3 ProTrek models with the night safari concept in its design and functions for optimal use in outdoor activities at night. This Tough Solar-powered Japanese quartz watch is all about the outdoor night scene.
It has a simple design for the purpose of readability out at night. Nevertheless, its minimalist style makes a chic appeal for the watch. It also comes with a Neon Illuminator LED backlight for illuminating the dial in order to see the time and function modes in the dark. Plus, its hands and markers are luminescent.
Serving as a guide for your outdoor adventures is its Triple Sensor feature including an altimeter/barometer, compass, and thermometer. For an unimpeded view of the altitude; barometric pressure; and temperature measurement, it has a manual/auto hand shift feature.
It’s also quite durable with its low-temperature resistance and water resistance to 100 meters. To back up its water-resistance with a tight seal ensuring no water comes inside it are its screw-down crown and a screw-down case back.
This ruggedly handsome watch is composed of a gray ion-plated stainless steel bezel, resin case, scratch-resistant mineral crystal dial window, and Dura-Soft silicone strap.
Moreover, you can also count on this watch for other features, such as five daily alarms; hourly time signal; full auto-calendar till 2099; 1/100-second stopwatch; countdown timer; and world time
Garmin Quatix® 6X Solar
Another smartwatch that received an upgrade is Garmin’s marine-centric GPS smartwatch: the Quatix 6X.
It is packed with advanced features for a wide variety of outdoor activities. While it was the marine-specific features that landed the Quantix landed at the top of our list of best sailing watches, it also has profiles for a wide variety of sports, including skiing, paddleboarding, and canoeing & kayaking.
The Garmin Quatix 6X Solar is built with a transparent Power Glass solar charging lens over its 1.4″ sunlight-readable display. In one quick glance, the wearer will be able to see real-time solar input on the smartwatch. Similar to the above solar products, it also has a Power Manager for you to check the battery consumption of each sensor and setting of your watch and adjust them accordingly to extend the watch’s battery life.
When it comes to water capability, the Garmin Quatix 6X solar is water-resistant up to 100 meters. It is also compatible with various Garmin chart plotters and other marine electronics making it a top watch pick for fishing, other water sports.
Seiko Prospex World Time Solar Chronograph Watch
The Seiko Prospex World Time Solar Chronograph Watch is a stunning timepiece perfect for travelers.
This is a 6-month power reserve solar-powered Japanese quartz watch that’ll keep you on time and in style anywhere in this world.
Its blue sunray dial that has silver-tone accents is enframed by a glossy blue and silver-tone bezel along with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal dial window and silver-tone stainless steel case that’s attached to a blue silicone strap. Altogether, they complement each other perfectly and make a sleek design.
On its unidirectional rotating bezel are a GMT scale and world time cities. This watch can provide a second time-zone. Additional useful features of this watch include a date display at the 4 o’clock position, chronograph, and alarm.
It has 100-meter water resistance that’s reinforced by its screw-down crown and screw-down case back.
Citizen Watches Men’s AT4008-51E Perpetual Chrono A-T Watch
This light-powered Citizen Men’s Chrono watch features three subdials, a date window, and a power reserve indicator. Eco-Drive is designed to convert natural and artificial light into energy. It doesn’t require battery replacement or winding to maintain constant operation. Even when the light is dim, this watch will keep on charging, making it practical and easy to use. The Citizen AT4008-51E has a low energy warning and power-save mode. When fully charged, it can run for up to seven years even in the dark.
Stylish and elegant, this watch has a stainless steel case with an anti-reflective sapphire dial window. The bracelet is made of stainless steel and has a fold-over clasp with hidden double push-button closure. The Citizen AT4008-51E is water-resistant up to 200 meters (660 feet), suitable for professional marine activity and water sports, but not for scuba diving.
Citizen’s Radio-Controlled Atomic Clock Synchronization Technology will connect to an atomic clock via radio waves for timekeeping that is accurate to one second every 100,000 years. This ensures that the watch is up-to-date with the latest time signal, automatically correcting the time and date so you don’t have to.
See the full line of Citizen Perpetual Calendar Eco-Drive Watches here.
Bering Time Solar Collection Watch
From the Danish watch brand, which takes inspiration from the beauty of the Arctic, Bering Time, comes the strikingly chic Bering Time Solar Collection Watch.
Their tagline, “Inspired by Arctic Beauty”, indeed, holds true in this watch as in every watch of theirs, for they are designed with an aesthetic that resembles that of the Arctic in a minimalist; elegant design.
As impressive as this watch’s stunning and durable design of a black ion-plated stainless steel case enclosing together with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal dial window, a black dial with white accents, that comes along with Milanese mesh bracelet is its generous power reserve. On a single full charge, this solar-powered quartz watch can last for 6-12 months.
Another convenient feature of this watch is its date display at the 3 o’clock position. With its 50-meter water resistance, you can engage in short periods of recreational swimming with this watch.
Casio Men’s G-Shock GWM5610-1 Solar Black Resin Sport Watch
This solar-powered watch from Casio has a wide array of features – atomic timekeeping, world time (29 time zones, 48 cities), full auto-calendar, shock resistance, EL backlight, 1/100-second stopwatch, battery indicator, and power-saving function. When fully charged, it can run up to 10 months without further exposure to light.
The Casio G-Shock GWM5610-1 has an octagonal case and a black resin band. It is water-resistant up to 200 meters (660 feet), suitable for water sports and marine activity, but not scuba diving. As the name suggests, this watch has a shock-resistant construction that protects against impact and vibration.
Junghans Force Mega Solar
Junghans is known for its simple Bauhaus-inspired watch designs, which is why this Ana-Digi watch is impressive. The German watchmaker maintains its clean design even with the two functions.
A combination of radio technology with solar power, the Junghans Force Ceramic Solar watch has a mineral crystal dial, luminous hands, and a ceramic bracelet with a titanium folding clasp. It also has a multi-frequency, radio-controlled solar movement and a power reserve of up to 21 months. The wearer can adjust the settings using the official Junghans MEGA app.
Garmin Tactix® Delta Solar
The Garmin Tactix Delta Solar is built to military standards (MIL-STD-810), is equipped with special tactical features such as mapping, advanced training, music, and others that are needed both for everyday and field use.
It’s a “mission-ready” wearable with a stealth mode that disables location sharing and wireless connectivity and instantly wipes all memory data. As expected from Garmin, its physical build is also exceptional with the rugged design yet sophisticated features including a large 1.4″ digital display, a black DLC-coated steel bezel, scratch-resistant sapphire lens, a black PVD-coated steel rear cover along a black tactical nylon QuickFit band, and exposed black metal hardware.
The Garmin Tactix Delta Solar is equipped with solar technology to extend battery life can last up to 21 days indoors and even up to 24 days when exposed to the sun sufficiently. That’s three whole weeks of continuous use in a single recharge!
Seiko Black Ion-Finish Solar Calendar Dress Watch
Abundant in power reserve and sleek in design, the Seiko Black Ion-Finish Solar Calendar Dress Watch is a superb timepiece, especially for the price.
This solar-powered Japanese quartz watch has over 10 months of power reserve.
The black ion-plating on its stainless steel case and bracelet makes for a durable exterior that at the same time, adds to its aesthetic. As paired with its black patterned sunray dial with silver-tone hands and markers, the result is rather elegant. Furthermore, it’s reinforced with scratch resistance, as covering the dial is a Hardlex crystal dial window.
You can also count on this watch for the date with its date display at the 3 o’clock position. And water activities like swimming and snorkeling can be enjoyed with this watch, as it’s water-resistant to 100 meters.
How Solar-Powered Watches Work
A solar-powered watch makes use of photovoltaic solar cells to accumulate light energy and convert it into power. The watches of this kind are powered by light either entirely or partially.
Beneath the dial of a solar-powered watch is a solar panel absorbing natural and artificial light to turn it into electrical energy that will power the watch. The converted energy is stored in a rechargeable cell, thus, the watch can be powered even when in the dark.
Moreover, there are some solar-powered watches that are made with lithium-ion cells through which the watch can be powered for months without exposure to light.
Advantages Solar-Powered Watches
Plenty of aspects of what makes a solar-powered watch so great can be enumerated. And they are as listed:
Renewable energy source – Light energy can be sourced anywhere, whether outdoor or indoor. So your watch can be charged anywhere even while worn on your wrist.
Easy charging – It can easily be charged. You don’t need to do anything, as just by being exposed to any source of light, it will already be charged.
Low maintenance – It doesn’t require much effort for maintenance. With a solar-powered watch, there’s no need to be concerned about having to change the battery every after few years, which could be bothersome and could also cost you.
Also, unlike a manual wind watch that needs to be wound regularly for it to properly keep time, all a solar-powered watch needs is some light. It doesn’t require any special maintenance either.
Eco-friendly – As it lessens the need to change batteries, the use of disposable batteries is reduced saving you money while being eco-friendly.
Long power reserve – A solar-powered watch can store up to 6 months of power reserve and above. It’s longer than the power reserve an automatic and mechanical watch is capable of storing, which is more or less 40 hours and above.
The Biggest Solar-Powered Watch Brands
Among the few watch brands that provide solar-powered watches, Citizen and Seiko are two of the most prominent.
As a matter of fact, Citizen is the pioneer in the solar-powered watch domain, having invented the first analog quartz watch in 1976 with its Eco-Drive technology.
Competing with their Eco-Drive series is the Seiko which launched its first solar watch in 1977.
Both the Eco-Drive and Seiko Solar series provide superb solar-powered watches. Some similarities can be even found in their watches.
Nevertheless, both Seiko and Citizen bring some of their own distinctive features to the table.
Another watch brand that has made a name for itself for its solar-powered watches is Casio which launched its Tough Solar technology in 1998 with the G-Shock Raysman DW-9300.
Casio has some excellent solar-powered watches in their G-Shock, Pro Trek, and Pathfinder series.
Solios is a sustainable Canadian watchmaker that sells exclusively solar watches. The brand designs are clean and minimalistic and the brand has several initiatives to be a more sustainable solar watch including a watch recycling program and reforesting rain forest.
Garmin is well-known for its premium GPS multisport smartwatches and high-end wearables. In the summer of 2020, Garmin released solar versions of four of its bestselling smartwatches, including the Garmin Instinct®, Fēnix® 6, Quatix®, and Tactix®. You can see all of the Garmin solar-powered watches here.
Our Top Picks
Having an endless power supply makes these watches very practical as well as functional. For this list of recommended watches, we’ve compared major brands that are well-known for solar technology (such as Seiko’s solar watches and Citizen’s Eco-Drive). After having selected some of the best in the market and compared them to each other, here are some of our favorite top solar-powered watches.
For the Seiko Solar Stainless Steel Chronograph Diver’s Watch, what makes it an awesome solar-powered watch is its versatility apart from its ample 6-month power reserve. It’s useful not only for divers but also for any regular watch user. And it has a sleek design that can complement any outfit.
The Citizen Eco-Drive Chronograph Stainless Steel Watch made it in our top three because along with its sufficient 5-month power reserve is an understated design, which makes it rather sophisticated and some handy features, which make it very functional. It’s elegant but also sporty. This would look good with casual wear and even dressy attire.
The Casio G-Shock G-Steel Watch is one of our top three because of its impressive Tough Solar technology and rugged design. This technology allows it to store up to two years of power reserve in a single full charge, as well as source power from any light source, whether natural; artificial; or even the weakest light source. Also, it comes with a stylish design and a lot of nifty features.
For the adventurous type looking for a premium GPS multi-sport smartwatch, the Garmin Fenix series has been one of our top picks for outdoor adventures from hiking to surfing and for serious athletes.
The new Garmin Fēnix® 6 Solar takes this already great watch to the next level.
The Solios classic timepiece made it to our top picks thanks to its sleek minimalist design. Many solar watches apply textures, colors, or features on the dial to hide the solar cell. Solios has found a way to let the light rays go through the dial without making the solar cell visible to the human eye. This innovative take on integrating the solar movement within their thin stainless steel case, mixed with Solios’ sustainable efforts and a 6 months power reserve, explains Solios’ place among our top picks.
We came up with these top picks by assessing the watches generally. But each and everyone has their own preference, so it’s really up to the buyer what’s best for him. Nevertheless, we hope this article enlightened you about solar-powered watches.