The 8 Best Solar Watches of 2018

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Watches powered by solar cells have become extremely popular and it’s easy to see why. They are very convenient to use and the photovoltaic technology is now more efficient than ever. If you’re curious about the implementation of this ability in watches, the principles are actually fairly simple to understand. A solar panel is used for absorbing both sunlight and artificial light and it can be found either directly under the dial of the watch or underneath one extra layer. The absorbed light is then converted into electrical energy and stored in a rechargeable cell which is used for powering the timepiece. Some solar watches can last a long time, like several months or even years without light exposure if they make use of powerful lithium-ion batteries and a nifty power-save feature. You might also be interested in our articles about the best atomic watch and the best projection alarm clocks.

The market for solar watches nowadays is very diverse. If you have an interest in acquiring a capable model you can pick something good even if your budget is not very large. To narrow down your selection, you can try this little shopping guide for solar watches to help you choose more wisely.

1. Power-save

Not all solar watches have the power-save ability to conserve energy so if you think that you won’t take the watch out into the sun very often, maybe this feature could be important. It’s recommended to have it because you’ll most likely never have to worry about your watch stopping from lack of power with it.

2. Design

This comes down to personal preference. You should get a solar watch that fits your lifestyle and the way you dress. There’s a good selection of tough models designed for sports enthusiasts but you can also find more casual timepieces that can be more elegant or discrete. If you’re an adventurous type, select one that has extra features to help you during outdoors expeditions.

3. Durability and reliability

This deserves more emphasis as it’s an essential aspect to consider for any kind of watch, not just solar models. Many solar-powered watches represent considerable investments, so you will need to make sure that they will be able to stand the test of time. Watches from trusted brands are usually made with better quality materials so it’s probably worth checking out the manufacturer a bit before you make a purchase. Some of the best companies in the business of solar watches are Citizen, Seiko, and Casio. Their watches are definitely among the most reliable on the market as these are established companies with reputable tradition in the crafting of high-quality timepieces. Below you will find the individual reviews for the best solar watches available right now.

1. Citizen BM8180-03E Eco-Drive

Achieving just the right balance between style, performance, and price, the Citizen BM8180-03E is the top choice for a solar powered watch. It stands out due to it military-inspired look, a green canvas band combined with a durable stainless steel case. This one comes with lots of high-quality features for its price.

The design of this watch is one of the most attractive aspects of it. It’s quite a simple watch but it’s very well-designed. The black dial is decorated with big Arabic numeral markers for the hours and smaller ones for the minutes around the outer rim. The silver hands are luminescent.

On the 3 o’clock position you can see the little display for the date and the current day of the week. Citizen opted for a pull/push textured crown style and to complement the solid metal design of the case, an anti-scratch mineral crystal has been added to protect the dial.

The stitched canvas band feels comfortable on your wrist making the whole watch feel lighter than you’d expect. As this watch uses the Eco-Drive technology, it will recharge its internal battery using both natural or artificial light. Power saving function is included to conserve some energy when the watch doesn’t meet the sun for a long time. It’s also good for swimming with its 330 feet water resistance.

This looks like an incredibly versatile watch as it can be worn with many different outfits. It fits without any problems on the wrists of those with a more active lifestyle but perhaps casual clothes represent the best match for its design.

Considering that this watch is made in Japan you are almost guaranteed to get a beautifully crafted timepiece that will last you a very long time if you maintain it properly. A good solar watch if you take into account all its features including the stylish design and the flawless construction. The Citizen BM8180-03E is a winner on the market for solar watches. It’s intended for those who just want a minimalistic watch with the added bonus of solar battery efficiency.

Key Features:

  • Mineral crystal dial window
  • 330 feet water resistance
  • Textured crown
  • Stainless steel case
  • Stitched canvas band

2. Seiko SSC081 Andventure-Solar Classic Watch

Seiko is a Japanese company with a long history in the development of reliable, performant, and stylish watches. The SSC081 comes from Seiko’s Prospex line and it looks simply breathtaking with its elegant round dial and genuine leather band combined with the exquisite attention to details on its smooth black dial.

This may look like a classic watch but under the hood, you can discover the high-tech solar power ability to convert the light into energy for its battery. The case of the watch is made of stainless steel and the bezel is fixed. For the dial, the manufacturer went for a stylish combination of a black dial with silver-tone luminescent hands and markers.

On certain key positions like the 6, 9, and 12 o’clock, you will notice the large Arabic numerals while at the 3 o’clock position there’s a tiny date display. In the inner ring, you can also discover three chronograph sub-dials while around the outer rim there’s a 360-degree scale. Right underneath it, look closely and you will find a compass scale.

All these beautiful dial elements are protected by a strong Hardlex crystal that offers superior resistance to scratches. The digital scheduler calendar that’s integrated can help you keep track of time. This is not only a stylish watch but it’s also water resistant and the premium finishes attest to its reliable durability.

As this is a classic-looking watch it’s recommended for a casual dress style. This is a very elegant timepiece that manages to blend sophistication with a solar panel to create an outstanding accessory for everyday wearing. Taking all these aspects into account, it’s safe to say that the Seiko SSC081 is worth the investment if you want a beautiful solar watch.

Key Features:

  • 42 mm stainless steel case
  • Genuine leather band
  • Hardlex dial window
  • Chronograph subdials
  • Dual crowns

3. Casio Pro Trek PRW-2500T-7CR

Casio is another Japanese brand that makes an appearance on this list, this time with a solar atomic watch geared towards men with an affinity for outdoor exploring. Coming from the Pro Trek series, the PRW-2500T-7CR is one of Casio’s most appreciated solar sports watch due to being loaded with high-performance abilities.

This is a triple sensor model and the dedicated Compass, Altimeter/Barometer, and Thermometer sensors are easily accessible. If you’re out in challenging environments, it’s important to be aware of certain parameters from your surroundings like the temperature, barometric pressure or the altitude.

Designed with performance and survival in mind, this watch comes with a rechargeable solar battery that can last approximately five months on a full charge. But if you’re actively going hiking or mountaineering with it, you shouldn’t worry about battery life as it will recharge itself when you’re constantly exposed to light.

Keeping the most accurate time can also be crucial when you’re exploring the wilderness so this is why the timepiece offers multi-band atomic timekeeping. Radio synchronizing is by far the most precise way to get the watch to know the time. Even if you don’t necessarily think it’s a relevant feature for survival or adventuring, this is still a neat aspect that any state-of-the-art watch should have.

This is a sophisticated watch when it comes to displaying relevant data. It makes use of a specially configured duplex LCD layout for getting the most out of the space available. You’ll be able to check at a simple glance information like the tide and moon graph or barometric pressure patterns.

Those who frequently go rafting will love the strong water resistance of 660 feet as well as the durable titanium band of this watch combined with the strong stainless steel of the case. There’s a good balance of weight and sturdiness here, ideal for those who are avid outdoor explorers.

With so many functions and such a great arsenal of abilities, this is the ideal watch to wear if you value outdoor reliability and performance above all else. This is a timepiece for those who want more out of a solar watch and have more demanding needs. The Casio PRW-2500T-7CR solar watch is destined for great things and if it fits your budget there’s hardly a better option out there.

Key Features:

  • Tough Solar Power
  • Triple Sensor
  • Atomic Timekeeping
  • Duplex LC Display
  • Power saving function

4. Seiko SNE039 Silvertone Calendar Solar Watch

With an impeccable brushed stainless steel design, the Seiko SNE039 it’s a simple but elegant solar watch which doesn’t offer much in terms of functionality. The real value demonstrated by this model lays in the quality of the construction and the dedication to create a beautiful watch.

As both the case and the bracelet are made of stainless steel, this watch gives off quite a solid impression. It does have a certain weight to it but this is the kind of watch that you wear on particular occasions when you need a refined accessory. Even if you intend to wear it on a regular basis, you can quickly adjust to the way it feels on the wrist. The size of 37 mm of the steel case is more on the smaller side.

The black dial of the watch has been kept smoothly clean, just the silver sword-shape hands with minimalistic stick hour markers. Around the outer rim you can notice the minute markers and near the center, right under 12 o’clock, you’ve got the Seiko logo and the word “Solar”. The final thing that grabs the attention is the tiny display which shows the day of the week and the current date. The placement at 3 o’clock is fairly standard but intuitive to spot.

The hands of the watch are luminescent to deliver information about the current time even in low-light conditions and to prevent scratches, there’s a Hardlex crystal installed as a dial window. The link bracelet used has a push-button clasp and the single crown has received a texturizing treatment to make it easier to get a good grip.

Thanks to the solar battery, you can easily forget about the problem of depleting energy reserves and battery replacements. This is a very energy efficient timepiece capable of generating a solid power reserve which adds to the overall reliability of the watch.

The price is quite accessible and the only downside I can come up with for this sleek watch is how you need to charge it up initially before you start using it. A nice casual or dress watch, depending on your needs, the Seiko SNE039 solar timepiece is made of high-quality materials that will please lots of users who want a good-looking model without spending a fortune. Highly recommended.

Key Features:

  • Classic-looking watch
  • Sword-shaped hands
  • Date window
  • Hardlex dial window
  • Stainless steel design

5. Seiko SSC139 Excelsior Black Ion Chronograph

Another great solar watch by Seiko, the SSC139 Excelsior is a model in two tones, a design that stands out. The sculpted stainless link bracelet, in particular, looks incredible and it creates a dazzling impression when you combine it with the smooth curves of the case.

At 43 mm, the stainless steel case is fairly big and the weight is also pretty high if you’re not used to a larger watch. Still, in the right hands, the big size is definitely an advantage. The black ion finish adds the kind of premium charm you can expect from an expensive watch.

A multi-chronograph is decorating the smooth dial of the watch and everything from the hour markers to the luminescent hands and the date window manage to create a harmony of elegance and style. Over the dial, Seiko placed a durable Hardlex window and hidden from view there’s a solar panel integrated into the watch for capturing the outside light and turning it into pure energy to fuel the intricate machinery inside.

Setting up the watch for the first time can be a confusing process but once you figure out the instructions, you will have a hard time putting this watch down. It’s just mesmerizing to look at and a pleasure to wear every day. If you are the type of person who doesn’t bother to take out their watch when swimming or showering, you’ll enjoy its solid 330 feet water resistance.

A key accessory that will take the elegance of any attire to a new level, the Seiko SSC139 Excelsior is a handsome choice for any watch enthusiast with a generous budget. The watch works flawlessly and it’s probably worth it just for the looks and the quality craftsmanship alone. The two-tone design is an eye catcher and the solar charging ability will give you some peace of mind as you’ll never need to worry about running out of power.

Key Features:

  • Two-tone watch
  • 43 mm stainless steel case
  • Sculpted stainless link bracelet
  • Hardlex dial window
  • Water-resistant to 330 feet

6. Casio Edifice EQS500DB-1A1

Casio’s Edifice series is created to for those who enjoy stylish stainless steel watches with intricate dials. The EQS500DB-1A1 is part of this line of elegant watches and it features Tough Solar Power, world time, auto-calendar, and 1/100 second chronograph.

This self-charging model is built with toughness and elegance in mind. The stainless steel case is very solid and combined with the mineral crystal dial window, this could be the perfect blend of durability to withstand the wear over the years. The water resistance rating is 330 feet maximum.

The watch has a large case measuring 48.5 mm and the black stationary bezel creates a pleasing contrast to the eye. On the sides of the case, you will notice the crown and the pushers used to operate the watch. Something that makes this watch unique is how the manufacturer managed to give this watch such a clean and professional look while at the same time sprinkling just a touch of sportiness.

The dial on this watch looks a bit crowded as it shows off some of the functions like the world time for example. A total of 29 time zones/cities are present besides UTC. Other notable elements featured on the dial are the chronograph sub-dials. The markers and the hands are luminous at night and the timekeeping is handled by the accurate quartz movement. A full auto calendar is also available.

Casio made this watch in an intelligent manner, it’s not all about the looks. It can be a bit daunting to learn to set up all the settings including the time. It may seem complex at first but it’s actually quite a simple watch compared to models with more advanced features. All it takes is a bit of patience when reading the instructions and to carefully go over each step.

An excellent timepiece in all regards, the Casio Edifice EQS500DB-1A1 is a great companion suitable for a diverse range of outfits. Considering how well equipped with useful functions it is, including the solar charging ability with power save function, this one provides unparalleled value for money.

Key Features:

  • Tough Solar Power
  • World time for 29 cities + UTC
  • 1/100 second chronograph
  • Power saving function
  • Solid stainless steel case

7. Seiko SSC021 Solar Diver Watch

If you’re searching for a great solar dive watch, the Seiko SSC021 should be one of your top options. The watch offers strong water resistance and a design that makes no compromises on durability and mobility. The stainless steel case with Hardlex crystal is paired with a comfortable rubber band to meet the demands of diving enthusiasts.

Seiko is known for creating solid timepieces suitable for water sports and marine activity and this model definitely doesn’t disappoint. The bold appearance with the protruding pushers and the yellow accented crown is quite impressive. The black round bezel has clearly visible markers so you can see the time with ease if you’re underwater and it also rotates in a smooth manner. This is a watch designed to look solid but without feeling too intrusive.

The luminous hands look nice at night but they also show you the time. Overall, the 44 mm case is just the right size and the color combinations of black and white also add to the legibility and the usability of the watch. There’s no doubt about the handsomeness of the timepiece either. The patterned black dial has markers that resemble pearls which look very fitting for a watch of this kind.

Seiko added chronograph subdials and at the 5 o’clock there’s a date display. This seems like a very dependable watch and the size is just right too. Some people might prefer to swap the band with a different one if the rubber seems too cheap looking.

Having a dive watch with solar charging ability is an excellent feature. As long as you keep this one into direct sunlight or light from artificial sources, your energy reserves will maintain steady.

In conclusion, Seiko did a great job with this dive watch. The SSC021 is attractive and performant with a balanced size and a durable construction. The rubber band might not be to everyone’s taste but it’s easy to change. For a solar dive watch, this is hands-down among the best you can find.

Key Features:

  • 44 mm stainless steel case
  • Rubber band
  • Water-resistant to 660 feet
  • Chronograph subdials
  • Hardlex dial window

8. Seiko SSC019 Solar Diver Watch

The SSC019 is another capable solar watch that’s fitting for divers in need of a more premium timepiece. It does come with a considerable cost but it’s outstanding in its ability to resist the water pressure and consistently allow you to check the precise time.

Made of high-quality stainless steel, a material used for both the case and the strap, this watch looks attractive while managing a comfortable fit. The red and blue bezel is a welcomed splash of color and it’s interesting to notice the attention to details in harmonizing the whole design as Seiko also added a blue dial and a red accent on the crown.

With a case diameter of 43 mm, this isn’t a huge watch and it should fit most wrists without looking out of place even on a smaller wrist. On the dial, you can discover three sub-dials and a date display. Around the outer rim, the visibility of the minute markers is certainly a welcomed feature. At night, the silver-tone hands shine with powerful light to check the time without issues.

This watch is great for recreational scuba diving and it boasts a 660 feet water pressure resistance. A Hardlex crystal should prevent any damaging scratches on the face of the watch. The whole metal construction has a truly robust feeling to it that enables you to dive with confidence.

Electricity is generated with the help of a solar battery and somewhere around 1 minute of time out in the sun should equal to about 1 hour of charge. This is only a rough approximation but you don’t have to pay too much attention to these numbers. If you keep the watch in the light (even artificial light is good enough), your watch will keep getting recharged. In the dark, this model should maintain its charge for 6 months.

When you consider the features of this solar watch, the only issue that remains is the price. If you decide to take the next step and get the Seiko SSC019 it will be worth the cost. It works accurately, looks cool, and delivers the performance needed by demanding diving enthusiasts.

Key Features:

  • 43 mm stainless steel case
  • Chronograph subdials
  • Water-resistant to 660 feet
  • Hardlex crystal
  • Aluminum bezel with a blue and red design