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Solar watches are pretty awesome, and they come in a wide range of styles and models. Before you head to the glass displays in your local department store, there are a few things that you need to understand in order to choose the best solar watch for your needs.
While we already established that solar-powered watches are basically just quartz watches with built-in solar panels, their batteries are quite different. Some solar watches can run for up to a year on a full charge, while others may only last a few months.
If you’re wearing your watch every day, this isn’t that much of an issue. If you’re a collector and like to rotate through your watches, recognize that there could come a day where you might need to set your watch on a sunny window to get it to start ticking.
A solar-powered watch doesn’t hit full charge the second you expose it to light. You have to allow it to charge, which can take from between a few minutes to a few hours in the sun.
Also, understand that artificial light doesn’t create the same amount of energy as the sun on a clear day. A watch under a desk light can take much longer to charge.
Your owner’s manual will explain how long your watch takes to charge. Ideally, this will be just a few hours of direct sunlight.
Solar watches come in a wide range of styles, colors, and designs. If you’re in love with a particular style of watch, you’ll be able to find a solar option.
There are solar watches from chronographs and divers to dress and field watches, with a wide variety of other styles available.
With that said, there are a few watch styles that lend themselves to solar-powered components better than others, making them the most popular choices.
Tool watches like dive, field, and pilots’ watches have large faces perfect for stuffing solar components behind.
Some of these designs can also be pretty flashy and tacky, so be sure to consider if the watches you’re looking at fit your style.
The Best Solar Watches for Men in 2021
Now that you know how solar watches work and the important factors to keep in mind, you’re ready to check out some watches.
As a disclaimer, this list is extremely Citizen, Seiko, and Casio heavy. In fact, this list could be entirely Citizen watches, as the company’s Eco-Drive solar tech really is the benchmark in the solar watch industry.
Seiko Solar and Casio’s Tough Solar are able to stay relevant, but they can’t match Citizen’s solar-powered watch selection and technology.
The Best Solar Field Watches
If you’re a field watch lover, you’ll want to check these out.
Citizen Eco-Drive Chandler BM8180-03E
The Chandler field watch from Citizen is really the quintessential solar field watch. Its simple, military-inspired design has everything you need and nothing that you don’t.
Its compact size makes it easy to wear without being cumbersome when you hit the open trail. It measures 37mm across with an 18mm strap width.
The Chandler has plenty of great features as well. It has a day/date complication for staying on track when you’re off the beaten path.
The power reserve will last for six months when fully charged. It also features a mineral crystal, screw-down crown, and screw-down caseback, the combination of which creates a 100M water resistance.
If you’re looking for a tough field watch with a great, simple design, check out the SNE331. This field watch’s large numerals make it easy to read, even in low-light conditions at camp.
It measures 43mm across with a 22mm lug width, making it a bit chunkier than other field watches.
This watch is all about function. The Hardlex mineral crystal is tough and shatter-resistant, and the day/date window keeps you informed.
It has a 100M water resistance, which is really the sweet spot for field watches. It will also run for ten months on a full charge, and the Lumibrite numerals are easy to read when the sun goes down.
Timex Expedition Scout 40
It would be downright unfair to not mention a watch whose namesake begs for trips past where the blacktop ends. The Timex Expedition Scout is a great affordable solar choice that doesn’t skimp on features.
It measures 40mm across and features a 20mm lug width for plenty of strap choices.
The Expedition Scout 40 has a few features and stats to note. It has a scratch-resistant mineral glass crystal, a 50m water resistance, as well as a four-month power reserve.
Instead of Timex’s famous Indiglo, the Expedition Scout 40 has lumed hands and numerals.
The Best Solar Dive Watches
If you’re looking for a solar powered diver, here are the best options to choose from.
Seiko Prospex Solar Diver SBDJ017
When it comes to affordable divers, Seiko still reigns supreme — even in the solar market. The SBDJ017 is an excellent example of a solar dive watch with all the style and functionality of the more commonly seen automatic variants.
While it’s a little larger (at 43.5mm), it’s got the classic diver look so many enthusiasts appreciate.
The SBJ017 offers plenty of features worth talking about. For one, it features Seiko’s Lumibrite lume on the hands and indices. It has a unidirectional bezel, as well as a screw-down caseback and crown, making it a legitimate diver.
It also has a 200M water resistance and a power reserve good for ten months. Some guys might not like the Hardlex crystal, but it’s almost a necessity at this price point.
Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver BN0150-28E
There’s something about the BN0150-28E Promaster Diver from Citizen that makes it easy to admire. Competing directly with SKX for many years, this watch’s solar power secured its place in the affordable diver market.
There’s no denying that it’s large, measuring 44mm across, but the 20mm rubber strap it comes on widens a bit right after the lugs, shrinking the case just a bit.https://b1b246de81f65f20037fff82aea4cc5c.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
The BN0150-28E has a lot going for it. Not only does it feature a six-month power reserve, it also has a unidirectional bezel, a 200M water resistance, and scratch-resistant mineral crystal.
You could even argue that the Citizen’s dial is more attractive than some of its competitors, though the four-o’clock date window is a hot-button topic for some watch collectors.