Charges in sunlight or indoor light. Japanese quartz movement. Stainless steel case with black dial and date window. Stitched canvas band with buckle closure. Date window. Mineral crystal dial. Luminosity. Works for swimming and snorkeling, but not diving. Water resistant to 330'. Clean, minimalist look.
May need to remember to charge for a few minutes once a week if you usually wear long sleeves over it. Crystal scratches somewhat easily.
Runs 10 months on a full solar charge without further exposure to light. Solar rechargeable battery, including indicator and power-saving function. LED light with afterglow. Luminous hands and markers. 5 Daily alarms, 1/100 second digital stopwatch and 2 countdown timers. Water resistant to 100M. Durable band. Battery stays charged very easily.
No second hand. Date and digital window are too small to read easily.
Sunray dial with black face. Sword-shape hands and date window. 37mm stainless steel case. Quartz movement. Adjustable stainless steel link bracelet with push-button clasp. Water resistant to 100'. Long power reserve. Classic look.
Glow features are weak. Adjusting the date can be complicated, and you can only do it at certain times of day according to manufacturer's instructions.
Japanese quartz movement. Crystal-studded bezel with pearlescent dial and stainless steel case. Date window. 2-tone stainless steel band. Push-button clasp. Withstands splashes or brief immersion in water. Feminine-looking, but not over-the-top. Lightweight.
Not suitable for swimming. Solar charging panel can stop working.
Runs about 10 months on a full charge without further light exposure. Shock resistant. EL backlight. World time. Stopwatch. Countdown timer. Calendar. Water resistant to 660' and suitable for most water sports except scuba diving. Fits under long sleeves without interference. Easy-to-read digital screen.
Auto backlight function is tempernmental and only works when watch is fully charged.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
If you dislike winding your watch or dealing with fiddly watch batteries, have you considered a solar-powered watch? Thanks to their discreet solar panels, these watches are powered by nothing but the sun.
From rugged options perfect for wearing hiking or while exercising to fancy models that wouldn't appear out of place at a black tie event, you can find all kinds of solar-powered watches on the market, but which is right for you?
We at BestReviews have picked our favorite solar-powered watches and created a detailed guide to aid you in finding your perfect timepiece. Read on to discover all you need to know about the world of solar-powered watches.
Analog solar-powered watches
Analog watches are those that feature an hour hand and a minute hand (and sometimes a second hand, too). The majority of solar-powered watches are analog, but you can find digital options as well. Analog watches are generally considered to be more aesthetically versatile, so they're better all-rounders, suitable for both formal and informal wear.
Digital solar-powered watches
Although digital solar-powered watches aren't quite as common as their analog counterparts, you can still find a decent selection to choose from. Some people prefer the fun retro appearance of digital watches; others simply find them more convenient. Digital solar watches may also offer a wider array of features, such as built-in alarms and stopwatch functions.
You can find solar-powered watches with a date window — a feature some users find useful.
What makes a solar-powered watch different from a standard watch is its solar charging capabilities. These watches contain a number of tiny solar panels, usually hidden discreetly around the watch face, which constantly charge the watch when exposed to light. Since the battery level is always being topped up, under normal conditions, a solar-powered watch should never run out of charge.
Of course, you know that solar-powered watches are charged by sunlight. However, almost all models can also charge themselves using artificial light, albeit at a slower rate. Although battery life varies between makes and models, the majority of solar-powered watches can store enough power to run for months or even years.
You can find solar-powered watches with various band materials. Common choices include leather, faux leather, metal link, and plastic. The majority of digital solar watches have plastic buckle-style straps, but you'll find more variety among analog models. Metal bands are stylish and durable, but some people don't find them comfortable for all-day wear. Leather watch straps are softer and have simple buckle fastenings, but some people choose to avoid leather for religious or ethical reasons. An animal-friendly and equally comfortable alternative is faux leather, which is usually found on all but high-end watches.
Men's, women's, and unisex styles
Some solar-watches are designed for men, some for women, and some for everyone. Men's watches tend to be chunkier, with large faces and wide straps. Women's watches are more delicate, with small faces and thin bands. Unisex watches are somewhere in between. Of course, you don't need to stick to these gender boundaries. If you're a woman who prefers a chunky watch, for instance, you can buy yourself a men's watch.
Watches are available in a wide range of designs to suit different tastes and uses. Some watches are highly embellished with crystals (or even diamonds and other precious stones in high-end models) and are meant for wear at formal occasions — although you can wear them for everyday use, too. Others are smart but simple, for people who don't necessarily want anything too flashy.
Then you have watches that are designed to be rugged and functional rather than beautiful. These are best for casual use. Everyone has their own personal preferences about design, so you'll need to shop around to find something you like.
Subdials are smaller dials set into the face of a watch, used to measure something other than the time where you are. You can find subdials on solar-watches with some regularity. Watches can have subdials for a range of purposes. Some subdials are for use as a stopwatch to measure seconds, minutes, or hours (these are known as chronograph dials). Some tell the time in a different time zone or indicate the date or day of the week. Some tell you the phase of the moon. Chronograph subdials are generally operated by a button or buttons near the dial used to set the time on the watch.
A large number of modern solar-powered watches feature some degree of waterproofing, which is great if you prefer to keep your watch on at all times — even in the shower or when going for a swim. You can find watches that are water-resistant at great depths under the water (in some cases, more than 650 feet). These types of watches are wonderful for divers. However, the vast majority of wearers will never need their watch to be waterproof at this kind of depth.
If you often need to tell the time in the dark or in poor lighting, choose a digital watch with a light-up face or an analog watch with luminous hands.
Check the weight of your chosen solar-powered watch before buying. Some chunky watches can be quite heavy and may not be comfortable to wear.
How much should you expect to pay for a solar watch? You'll be pleased to know that solar-powered watches cost a similar amount to standard watches of comparable quality. You can find budget solar-powered watches for as little as $10 to $15, but these aren't the most attractive or of the best quality.
Expect to pay $40 to $80 for a decent yet basic solar watch. Mid-range solar-powered watches cost around $100 to $200, whereas high-end and designer models can cost as much as $500 or even $1,000.
Check the adjustability of your solar-powered watch. Those with standard buckles are the easiest to adjust, but you can have links removed from or added to metal bands for a better fit.
Consider how durable your chosen solar-powered watch is. If you'll be wearing the same watch seven days a week, it will need to be tough enough to stand up to general wear and tear. You may also want to consider a shock-resistant model if you need something rugged.
Think about how comfortable any solar watch you're considering would be. Metal link watches can catch in arm hair and aren't always the comfiest for extended use.
There are several more solar-powered watches we found during our research that we like almost as much as our top picks. The Citizen Eco-Drive Men's AT4008-51E Perpetual Chrono A-T Watch is a stylish timepiece with three subdials for different time zones, days of the week, and a 24-hour timer. Its stainless steel construction is durable, and it's water-resistant to 660 feet.
We also love the Casio Women's LTP-S100D-7BVCF Solar Powered Watch, a more delicate stainless steel option for smaller wrists. The simple analog face features hour markers and a date window.
If you're looking for an affordable option, consider the Fanmis Men's Solar Powered Casual Quartz Watch. The unusual design features both digital and analog displays, which is useful for keeping track of the time in two time zones.
Q. How accurate and effective are solar-powered watches?
A. While solar-powered watches back in the '80s and '90s were clunky and often inaccurate, modern solar technology is such that contemporary solar-powered watches are no less accurate or effective than battery-powered or mechanical watches.
Q. Will my watch charge if I wear long sleeves over it?
A. Unless you're wearing a sheer material, hardly any light will penetrate through long sleeves, so your watch won't charge effectively. At times of year where you're almost constantly wearing long sleeves, you'd need to make an effort to set your watch somewhere light to charge every now and then.
Q. Do solar-powered watches charge equally quickly in all seasons?
A. Since solar-powered watches charge most effectively in bright sunlight, they generally charge more quickly in spring and summer than in fall and winter when it's overcast. That said, plenty of solar-powered watches charge in artificial light, so they generally get adequate charging time indoors; they just don't reach full charge quite as quickly.
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