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Solar Watches – The Facts
We’ve all had that experience of finding an old watch tucked into the vary back of some forgotten drawer of closet shelf. We may be excited to find such a treasure only to realize that the batteries have long since died. You could get a new one, of course, but it hardly seems worth it. You put it back where you found it, sure that this exact same situation would happen a few years down the line. This cycle could be broken if that watch had been a solar watch.
Now, modern solar watches are nothing like the ones you found in the 70s. Over 40 years ago, solar technology was still in its infancy. Watches had large and bulky frames that needed to accommodate a solar cell on its face. Moreover, these solar cells directly powered the watch, which meant that if the watch went without light then it would die instantly. It would spring back up to life once exposed to sunlight, of course, but analog watches would start where they left off and lose you time. Digital watches, meanwhile, would usually just continuously blink 12:00 when they started working again.
Until manufacturers of solar watches could fix this flaw, solar watches were nothing but a novelty best suited for children’s watches with images of G.I. Joe and He-Man.
How ever, like almost all technology in the 70s, great leaps and bounds of scientific breakthroughs revolutionized things. Solar cells became more compact and powerful and, most importantly, rechargeable. Manufacturers could now hide the solar cell beneath the watches face, allowing for newer and sleeker designs. Most solar powered watches of today look exactly like any other watch and come in a variety of styles. Not only that, but by adding a storage capacitor or a rechargeable battery which stores electricity generated by the solar cell. This means that watches can last even without direct light.
Of course, early watch models could only last three to five days on a single charge. As time went on and technology improved, solar watches evolved into what they are today. Today’s solar watches are powered by a solar cell that turns light from the sun and artificial light from lightbulbs into electricity, that electricity is then stored in a rechargeable batter. A fully charged battery can power a watch for six months, and that’s if it is kept in the dark. Batteries that are regularly charged by being exposed to light on a daily basis can last for the life of the watch in some models. The batteries are constantly charging which means you don’t have to worry about batteries running out.
Because solar watches so often use the same battery all their life, fewer batteries are used and thrown away to end up in landfills. Some batteries contain heavy metals such as lead and mercury that can seep out of these batteries and contaminate ground water. Because solar watches only use one battery, they are much better for the environment than watches that need new batteries every three to five years.
Solar watches have become increasingly prominent in mainstream culture over the years, which means that a variety of watch manufacturers now make them. Companies such as Citizen and Seiko who have been making solar powered watches for decades have recently increased their lines, and other manufacturers such as Casio and Timex are creating solar powered watches of their own.
Solar watches are convenient and easy to maintain. However, because of their reliance on light to keep themselves operating, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. Make sure you recharge often, This shouldn’t be a problem if you are a frequent visitor of the outdoors. However, if you live in an area that has little sunlight during the winter and fall, then most watches can be powered while under artificial light from a lightbulb, though they will do so much more slowly. Also related, make sure your watch isn’t hidden beneath long jacket or coat sleeves.
It’s also important to remember that while solar watches require light to charge, exposing them to high heat can damage sensitive machinery. That’s why you should never leave your watch on the dashboard of a car or under a very powerful light. Also remember, and this may seem obvious, that a solar watch can’t charge in the dark, so don’t leave it in your pocket or in a drawer.
A solar watch can be a great purchase, but with so many watches in the market today which ones are the best of the best? The answer is not easy to find, since there are many watch manufacturers out there that make a very high quality watch. However, by examining features such as charge time, charge life, style, and many others, a few standouts emerge. Anyone would be satisfied with any of these watches.
Casio G-Shock G-Steel
The G-Steel line by Casio is perhaps one of the most beautiful solar watches in existence. The design of the G-Steel is bold and features a metal body that protects the crystal face of the watch. This thick watch is for those who enjoy watches with a striking presence on their wrists. The series has both resin bands and stainless steel bands. The metal face also comes in many deep colors to cater to many tastes.
This watch also have many features. It is shock resistant and has double LED lighting on the face and backlit for the digital displays. The time piece itself is analog, with digital displays that tell you the month and day as well as the day of the week. This watch also allows you to swap between time zones and major cities. The G-Steel is also water resistant up to 200 meters (660 feet). Along with these features are more standard ones such as a stopwatch, a countdown timer, and an hourly time signal. The Casio G-Steel series also allows you to set five daily alarms.
On a fully charged battery the G-steel can last 8 months without exposure to light. However, if it’s power save feature is turned on, then this watch can last 19 months in the back of your drawer. Clearly, this is a top notch watch that is both beautiful, pragmatic, and tough.
Seiko Prospex Solar Dive Watch (SSC017)
Seiko has been crafting solar watches for decades. They have also been researching and developing other types of watches that don’t need batteries to be constantly changed and that will keep precise time for as long as possible. Seiko’s watches include spring drive watches that operate with as little power as 25 nano watts (it would take two billion of these watches to power a 60 watt bulb), kinetic watches which use a floating rotor in a magnetic field, and mechanical watches.
Seiko’s solar watches are their most popular offering. Of those watches, the Seiko Prospex dive watch is their most known watch. This watch features a thin and stylish case that is elegantly designed to be at home at a gym as well as a formal business meeting. The thinness of the case also means that it creates a more reserved impression. Both the watch and the band is made of stainless steel along with a crystal window that is scratch and shock resistant.
Along with being a solar watch, the Prospex was designed for divers. Which means that its unidirectional sloped bevel that turns smoothly and stays where you set it. This watch also features a chronograph that has 1/5 increments that makes it very precise when diving. Because it’s a diving watch, the Prospex is water resistant up to 200 meters and is ISO certified which means you don’t have to worry about damaging parts due to water exposure.
Seiko’s Prospex also has a lit face for better reading in dim light and can last up to five hours after only five minutes of charging in sunlight. With a fully charged battery, the watch can last up to six months in the dark. It should also be noted that this watch doesn’t have digital displays, it is completely analog. This might be an advantage or disadvantage depending on your tastes.
Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster (BN0151-09L)
Like Seiko, Citizen has been crafting solar watches for decades. This brand enjoys worldwide recognition as one of the leading watch makers in the world. It’s solar watches are put under the label of �Eco-Drive’ which basically means the same thing as solar powered. Like the previous watch, the Promaster is a diving watch that is water resistant to depths of 200 meters.
The band is made out of a soft, durable rubber and, like the case itself comes in a deep navy blue that stand out in a crowd. Featuring an analog movement, the Promaster also has a small face window that shows the day of the month as well as a bevel you can turn to show elapsed time.
The crystal face is also made of an anti-reflective material making it easy to see in sunny conditions. The case itself is made of stainless steel, giving the watch an elegant look that’s perfect not only for business and formal events but also more casual and sporty events as well. The face of the watch is the same color as the band, tying together all the design elements of the watch in perfect harmony. The large and thick hands and markings make it easy to read anywhere.
Overall, the watch is structurally sound and tough. It carries a bit of heft on the wrist and feels as though it can withstand a good amount of punishment. The Promaster is also reliable with a Japanese quartz movement that keeps precise time.
The energy cell in this watch will last the life of the watch and never needs replacing. The efficient solar cell in the Promaster can go from empty to fully charged in as little as 11 hours of full sunlight, and just 2 minutes of sunlight is enough to charge the watch for an entire day.
The Promaster is designed with an early warning system to let you know it’s running low on charge. Once the second hand starts moving in two second intervals, the watch is about a week from turning off entirely. Once it is charged back to life the second hand will continue to move in two second intervals to let you know it is keeping an incorrect time. One you adjust the hands to show the proper time, it will then begin to move properly from second to second.
Perhaps the most convenient feature of Citizen’s Eco-Drive Promaster series is that it comes with an overcharge prevention function which keeps the energy storage cell from overcharging. When overcharged, batteries lose much of the evergy-storing capabilities, which required them to be recharged more often. This is not the case with the Promaster, so you can spend as much time outdoors as you like.
The Promaster is not just for divers. It is also greatly suited to everyday use. It’s versatility and practicality make it a perfect watch for anyone that wants to use its rich blue color as a statement piece.
All of these watches are top quality and the final decision of which one to get depends all on the taste of the customer. Each of these watches features a long lasting solar cell that can power a watch for months without light once fully charged. Further, each of these watches is impeccably designed an go with almost any outfit whether its gym shorts or a tuxedo. Really, what it all comes down to are features.
All of these watches are analog. However, the Casio G-Steel series offers digital display to show extra information. If you enjoy digital displays in analog watches, then the Casio may be for you.
Otherwise, if you want a purely analog watch then the Seiko or Citizen watches may be more to your tastes. Both these watches feature a face window that show the day of the month. As such, the face of these watches looks very clean and minimalist. Both of these watches are a good choice.
No matter what watch you end up purchasing, there is no doubt you will be satisfied with the long lasting life and convenience of these solar watches.