When it comes to choosing a new watch, there are several avenues you can go down. You of course have your traditional variants; self-wound or hand-wound, and these can set you back a fair chunk of money depending on the brand, materials used and complications they offer.
Or you could go for a battery-powered digital watch, which, while they may remain accurate, you do have to factor in changing the battery every so often. Now we’re in the 21st century, you’re also given the option of a smartwatch, which uses a rechargeable battery and, depending on the model you choose, you’ll find yourself having to recharge it anywhere from once a day to once a week.
If you don’t want to ever have to think about keeping your watch running, you should look out for solar-powered watches. These, as their name suggests, feature a small solar panel which absorbs light, to store as energy, which keeps the time ticking away. Some watch manufacturers such as Seiko and Citizen are well-known for their solar powered watch models, but they’re not the only too to shine a light on the technology.
The vast majority of solar powered watches will be based on traditional silhouettes; think sports watches or dress watches, with a few digital versions thrown in for good measure. Essentially, you could have yourself a solar powered watch for every occasion and never have to worry about power ever again. And, don’t think that only sunlight will be capable of charging them up, as any light source can be used, including LEDs. To help you in your search for a solar powered watch, we’ve put together this list of the best models available to buy right now.
As we mentioned earlier, Citizen was one of the manufacturers who pioneered the use of solar power in watches. Calling it's technology Eco-Drive, it's claimed that watches using this movement can last for up to 10 years, or longer. This Citizen watch takes on a familiar diver's watch silhouette. Water-resistant to 200-metres, featuring a uni-directional rotating bezel with rocking luminous hands (including an orange hand to quickly see the minutes), it's an ideal companion for when you want to submerge yourself in water.
The blue dial complete with matching blue silicone strap makes it a rather attractive timepiece, while the screw-down crown and large 44mm case size make it a dab-hand underwater.
Fancy something a little more formal, yet still don't want to worry about changing batteries or keeping your watch wound? Check out this Citizen Chandler Eco-Drive watch. A simple dial displaying just the time and data, surrounded by a silver dial and stainless steel bracelet, make it the perfect accessory to your formal or smart casual outfits.
Water-resistant to 50-metres means it won't mind going for a swim, and the 41mm case size puts it in practically perfect size territory.
Are you more of a loyal Seiko fan? This Seiko Solar quartz watch is another solar-powered beauty. The combination of a brown leather strap and rose gold-tone case, complete with Roman numeral indices make it another perfectly viable option for your dress watch collection.
The 38mm case size may be a little dainty for some, but as unobtrusive watches go, it's up there with the best. It will hardly break the bank either, and when you factor in the need to never change the battery, it's a worthy investment.
Not everyone is going to have a taste for traditional dress watches, and would rather something a little more stealth-like. Enter this Seiko Solar model with black PVD stainless steel case and bracket. The diamond hour markers may be a little too blingy for some, but the black dial with sunburst effect is rather attractive. Water-resistant to 100-metres and rocking a 39mm case size place it firmly in everyday watch-wearing territory.
There are some watches produced by some of the world's most prestigious manufacturers that they become recognisable instantly, and which more affordable manufacturers attempt to emulate. Take this Citizen Corso for example, anyone who knows their watches will immediately recognise the octagon-shaped bezel. The fact it comes in gold helps it to further resemble its far more expensive peers, and yet, you never need to worry about keeping it wound, since it runs on solar power.
It's water-resistant to 100-metres and has a case size of 41mm, meaning it could become your next dress watch.
The PCAT is one of Citizen's best-performing series of watches, thanks to their accuracy and range of features. This particular PCAT packs an awful lot into its 43mm case, including chronograph sub-dials, radio-controlled timekeeping for incredible accuracy, dual time zones, a tachymeter, and even a perpetual calendar.
If you want these features from a more luxurious brand, you can expect to pay tens of thousands of dollars, but for this Citizen, you can expect to pay far less than $1,000.
It's not just Citizen and Seiko that dominate the solar-powered watch category, Japanese heavyweight Casio also has a few models up its sleeve. The AQS800W-1B2V, for example, rocks a classically tough and rugged appearance, complete with orange on black colours.
You can use it to view the time in 48 cities around the world, set up to 5 alarms, use a stopwatch function and even set dual countdown timers. Oh, and it's solar powered of course, so say goodbye to battery changes forever.
Swiss watch manufacturer Tissot is another to entry the solar-powered watch category, with the T-Touch Connect. Not only does this watch run off natural and artificial light sources, but you can interact with it via touch, as opposed to buttons. This means you can access features such as a compass, weather, chronograph functions and alarms, all via touch on the display.
Casio is well-known for bundling in a huge array of features into its watches, and the Pro Trek series is a perfect example. Designed for, and targeted at, hikers, climbers and anyone else who loves to spend time outdoors, select models in the Pro-Trek series can connect to a smartphone via a companion app to keep a log of data.
This particular model, the PRG270-1, doesn't have such functionality, but considering it runs on solar power makes it the perfect watch for outdoor enthusiasts. However, it does have a triple sensor to measure direction, atmospheric pressure and altitude.
You might not have heard of One Eleven before, but the American brand makes some of the most eco-friendly and durable watches out there. Their watches are made from recycled materials, so you'll be doing some good for the planet by investing in one.
This model, the One Eleven CBOE2030, takes on a familiar field watch design, with just the time viewable on the dial (no date here). Hands are coated with a luminous material, and a screw down crown means it's water-resistant to 100-metres.