We all know how frustrating it can be when you’ve kept your watch in perfect condition for a while and need to wear it, but you meet the batteries running out. The stress of replacing those batteries before you can wear them would leave you desperate for a better alternative.
That alternative is one of the most advanced technologies in the watch-making industry – the solar watch. This eco-friendly timepiece has been fast becoming a trend since its invention in the 1970s and is becoming more popular than the regular Quartz watches. But because something is new doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better.
If you’re one of those desperate for a more sustainable alternative to the regular quartz watches but are still a bit skeptical about how reliable solar watches are, this article is for you. Keep reading to find out more!
Are Solar Powered Watches Reliable?
A solar watch has the same features as a Quartz watch, except that a solar watch is recharged with light. However, solar watches are unarguably the most reliable timepieces there are. They begin to charge once the dial is exposed to natural or artificial light, and the excess energy is stored in lithium-ion batteries.
These batteries allow the watch to work in the dark or when there is no reliable light source. This means that solar watches work all day, every day. The lithium-ion batteries can also store energy for up to ten years before needing replacement. This gives you up to 10 years of accurate time-telling, a feature you can’t find in a regular quartz watch.
Unlike regular watches that become less accurate when their power is insufficient, solar watches prevent this change or drop-in time with a reliable light supply and charging while in use.
So, they only run at nearly empty capacity on rare occasions. Also, most solar-powered watches always come with a backup battery such that even if the lithium-ion batteries aren’t exposed to sunlight in a while, they would be able to supply enough power to run for a few months.
Ultimately, manufacturers always advise proper care and maintenance to make your solar watch last longer. The quality of the watch also determines its reliability. This means cheaper solar watches might not perform as well as more valuable ones produced by reputable companies.
Are Seiko Solar Watches Good?
Seiko watches are part of the solar watch brands that have taken a more significant portion of the market share with its first solar watch produced in 1977. The Japanese century-old brand brags about a charge that can last up to six months. And a definite battery life of ten years of stress-free time-telling.
A Seiko solar watch works with the same effectiveness as a Quartz watch, except that any light source powers it. Light hits the dial and charges the solar cell under it, which converts the energy to recharge the battery in the watch. So all you have to do is keep it where direct sunlight can hit it, and it would last for about six months without needing a recharge.
This means you only need to charge your Seiko solar watch twice a year. This is more than a few other solar watch brands can boast. Another significant benefit of Seiko watches is that they are very affordable. You don’t have to break the bank to own one.
With an array of stylish designs, chronograph features, and solar movements, the Seiko solar watch brand is one to be respected. A standard Seiko solar watch costs around $220 to $300. Despite their affordability, the quality of their watches in terms of reliability and accuracy is top-notch.
Pros and Cons of Solar Powered Watches
One of the most significant advantages of a solar watch is that they’re environmentally friendly, so you don’t have to change batteries every few months or years constantly. Beyond this, it also helps you save money on batteries.
Another advantage is that they are effortless to charge. In retrospect, a solar watch is always charging, except in darkness, as long as it’s exposed to light. It also charges with any light source, including fluorescent and incandescent light sources, not just sunlight.
Unlike a regular watch, such as manual or automatic wind, a solar watch doesn’t need any maintenance and very little, if at all. You only need to keep it exposed to sunlight to keep it working.
Solar watches also have a long power reserve. Depending on the brand, most watches can last up to six months without charging. Some even have a power-saving mode that allows it to last longer.
The major disadvantage of these watches is that they are expensive. Carrying about a timepiece with an in-built solar system doesn’t come cheap. This is because they can last up to a decade and are highly efficient.
A few people might argue that the need to expose the watches to light constantly is a significant disadvantage. However, compared to the stress and money you’d spend changing the batteries of a regular quartz watch and having to set the time manually, this is a small price to pay. If you habitually wear your watch, you shouldn’t have any problem with it.
Can You Overcharge a Solar Powered Watch?
Yes, you can overcharge a solar watch. However, most of these watches are equipped with a protection mechanism that prevents them from overcharging. This mechanism allows the batteries to stop charging or charge at a slower rate once they reach maximum charge. This feature also prevents the lithium-ion battery from being damaged.
These solar watches are usually in direct sunlight or other illumination forms that hit the solar cells and automatically activate the charging. If the battery overcharges, the limitations set in the watch disconnect the system, and there won’t be an overflow of electrons to the watch. So, the batteries must have a proper strategy to regulate energy flow to the watch.
How Long Does It Take to Charge a Solar Powered Watch?
Ideally, it should take about a whole day to fully charge a solar watch. But a lot of brands nowadays design their watches such that they can charge within a few hours under direct sunlight with high intensity. Charging with direct sunlight for just a few minutes is enough to power your watch for a whole day.
However, the charge time may differ depending on the battery capacity and the quality or brand of the watch. But there’s always a charging guide in the owner’s manual that comes with the watch. This tells you the charging duration of the watch under different light intensities and the expected battery life. Some watches even come with an indicator that shows the charge levels.
Various types of light sources can be used to charge solar watches. It might only take longer to reach total capacity. For example, under LED lamps, charging might take almost 150 hours. However, it isn’t always advisable, and lamps with smaller lux bulbs charge solar watches better and are safer.
Also, your watch should be placed at least twenty inches from the lamp with the dial turned towards the light. This prevents your watch from being damaged by the LED light.
How Long Will a Solar Powered Watch Last?
Solar watches have gained popularity because you don’t always have to change the batteries as often as regular watches. But no battery can keep energy forever, and solar batteries need to be changed. However, these batteries can last up to a decade before needing a replacement.
These watches are made of lithium-ion batteries that store energy from the light source. Eventually, the chemicals in these batteries can leak out and damage other parts of the watch. This is why it’s advisable to change the batteries every ten years.
Some batteries are even designed to last longer than a decade. For example, Casio and Citizen solar watches are produced to last nearly twenty years without needing to change the batteries.
The high-quality watches themselves can, however, last over twenty years. As long as your watch doesn’t come in contact with any form of moisture or heat while in storage, the electronic components will remain intact.
Can a Solar Watch Stop Working?
There are several reasons why your solar watch can stop working. The solar cell can become damaged, which can cause the other parts of the watch to stop functioning. Your solar watch might also not be getting enough light, or the battery might be damaged or worn out.
Moisture can also cause damage to your watch.
If your watch automatically stops working, you should troubleshoot by first putting it under direct sunlight for a day or two, as it could have stopped due to lack of light. However, if this doesn’t work, the battery is damaged and needs to be replaced.
If your watch has been exposed to moisture, it could cause the current in the battery to flow and rust quickly. This would lead to a chemical release which can spread and cause the watch to stop. In such a case, you should take the batteries out to dry under direct sunlight. If this doesn’t work, simply reach out to your watchmaker to get replacement batteries.
Your batteries should usually last ten years, but the replacement should be your first option if it’s been almost five or more years since its last change.
Will a Solar Watch Charge on a Cloudy Day?
There would be days when the skies are gloomy, and you need to charge your solar watch. You might put the watch back because you think it would be impossible to charge it since there’s no sun. But you can put your watch back on because your solar watch will still charge on a cloudy day.
On a cloudy day, most of the sunlight is diffused, and UV rays are blocked. It prevents most of the sunlight from getting down. However, sunlight rays will still penetrate even dense clouds and reach the earth. So, you can still charge your watch with the little rays that reach the ground.
All you have to do is put the watch anywhere it can face the sunlight, and the solar cells will start producing the charge stored in the batteries. However, the charging process will take longer as the solar cells only produce about 25 percent of their usual power.
Solar technology has significantly improved over the years since solar watches were invented. And the fact is that its popularity will only increase as more people become aware of its features and benefits. The great thing about them is that they are very accurate, and a wide range of companies are now producing solar watches, so you can easily find one with a style that suits you.