Are you in search of a high-quality solar watch that is also budget-friendly? Then you are in the right place now.
Choosing a timepiece that suits your need among thousands of options in the watch market can be quite a chore. That’s why I’ve come up with a list of the best solar watches that are worth your hard-earned money.
My list consists of analog & digital watches, with various styles, ranging from dive watch, pilot watch, and a field watch to trekking watch for outdoor activities to maximize your chance of selecting a perfect timepiece of your taste.
Now, let’s begin.
Best Analog Solar Watches
Seiko SSC017 Prospex – Solar Powered Chronograph Dive Watch
|Seiko SSC017 Prospex Specifications
|Seiko V175 solar quartz
|44mm (Stainless Steel)
- Versatile (a dive watch which has chronograph function & a dressy design)
- ISO 6425 Certification – Meets all international standards for a true dive watch
- Bright & long-lasting lume (using Seiko’s Lumibrite technology)
- Good-looking mixture of black, white, silver & blue tone
- Can go with any apparel (except for highly formal suits)
- The buttons are a little hard to push
- The stainless steel bracelet is just so-so
- My taste runs into dive watches, and that’s why I can’t wait to add the Seiko SSC017 into the first spot of this list.
I love the design of this watch. It can look cool & sporty or elegant, depending on your apparel. Although it’s not a dress watch, you can wear it to the office with a shirt. The case is not thick (just 14mm) and fits nicely under your cuff.
Unlike the popular SKX007 or Seiko Monster, which have prominent bezels, this SSC017 has a sloped bezel to reduce the overall case thickness and make it look more elegant. That’s what I like most about this watch. I love a versatile timepiece with a balanced look.
What’s not to love is the stainless steel bracelet. It’s not on par with the highly well-made case. It’s not ugly or rattling, but it’s merely there to wrap around your wrist, not to add charm to the watch. Fortunately, the watch looks aesthetic on leather or fabric NATO/Zulu straps, and plenty of aftermarket watch bands are out there.
The bezel is another issue; it’s painted. That means you should be careful when wearing the watch or putting it on some hard surface, or else you would risk scratching the bezel, and finding a replacement can be challenging. But don’t worry. Minor scratches can’t make your watch look like a mess. Most of my dive watches look new even after they accumulated 10+ wounds on the bezel.
Regarding Water resistance & Diving function, Seiko claims that all their dive watches comply with ISO 6425 standards. If true, you don’t have to worry about SSC017’s quality as a real dive watch. Seiko is a prestige brand, so I don’t think they make false advertisements. 200m (660ft) water resistance is enough for most scuba dives. Besides, almost no users have complained about the watch’s malfunction underwater up to now.
To make the watch more irresistible, Seiko added the chronograph feature for counting time and making the piece look cooler & sportier with two guarded push buttons and three subdials.
And what about the lume? Seiko SSC017 has the best lume in its price range compared to its counterparts. Seiko’s Lumibrite technology offers you an outstanding reading experience in low-light conditions. The lume is bright and long-lasting – up to 5 hours after a 10-minute charge. Is it impressive?
Seiko SSC017 features the V175 solar-powered quartz caliber, which is a workhorse. As a quartz movement, it runs off for about 15 seconds per month, depending on the temperature. The solar battery can store enough energy for 6-month continuous use. You don’t have to use it daily to charge the battery.
Is it for you?
To wrap it up, if you want a versatile fully-featured dive watch that can also serve as an elegant fashion item, the Seiko SSC017 Prospex is an all-in-one option for you: chronograph feature, bright & long-lasting lume, ISO-certified water resistance, the solar battery that doesn’t need replacement, and the most important – an eye-catching design. What else can we ask for from a budget watch?
Citizen Eco Drive NightHawk BJ7000-52E Pilot Watch
|Citizen NightHawk BJ7000-52E Specifications
|Citizen Eco-Drive solar quartz
|42mm (Stainless Steel)
- Eye-catching aviation style
- Sharp, good-looking stainless steel case
- Advanced features for aviators as well as travelers (GMT function, for example)
- Bright, long-lasting & beautiful icy-blue lume
- The stainless steel band is just so-so
- Some non pilot people find a few advanced features redundant
The second watch in this list is a modern-style pilot watch. Regarding both design and features, there are a lot of differences compared to traditional analog aviation watches.
As you can see, the dial is very busy and crowded with many numbers, scales, and arcs, and it even has hands indicating different information. The dial is something you love or hate. If you are a minimalist, the NightHawk’s style is not for you. But if you want a watch with lots of details on the face, the NightHawk is one of the perfect picks because all the details on the dial are very well organized. It looks crowded but neat.
I’m talking about those who are just ordinary watch people, not pilots. If you are a real aviator, you should consider NightHawk, a reliable, fully-featured tool that is a nice-looking fashion item.
What I like most about this watch is the sharp body, from lugs and cases to crowns. The brushed silver finish also adds much to the coolness of this watch and fits in very well with the black tone of the dial.
Taking about the lugs, there’s an inconvenience here. They’re too close to the body; this design makes it difficult to replace the metal band with another thick leather strap or a NATO/Zulu. Because the watch case looks taller than it is, the replacement band should be thick, too. However, with these lugs, you’re left with limited options.
Just like the SSC017 above, the metal bracelet of NightHawk is the thing I don’t like much; it’s just there to complete the watch. That’s all.
You’ll notice that there’s an additional knurled crown at 8 o’clock. It’s for turning the internal bezel – an integral part of modern aviation watches. If you want to know how to use it properly, check out this link for more details.
Besides being an excellent pilot watch, the NightHawk is also suitable for those who often travel because it has a GMT function. That means you can track time at two separate locations through the dial.
One more thing I like about the watch is the 200m (660ft) water resistance. It’s not a diving piece like the SSC017, but it’s still well-protected from water. You can wear it anywhere you want, even watersports adventures. But I don’t recommend you to scuba dive with it. Anyway, it’s designed to fly, not to dive. Do it at your own risk.
The lume on NightHawk is second to none, even Seiko’s Lumibrite. The icy blue provides an easy read in the dark and can last for hours.
The Eco-Drive movement beating inside is solar-powered quartz. Whether the light source is natural or artificial, the watch panel can absorb it, convert it into energy, and store it for months. You won’t ever get near the empty point despite Citizen providing you with a power saver function.
Is it for you?
For those who are pilots, this Citizen NightHawk is a reliable tool watch that’s worth checking out. For other watch folks, it’s a cool & rugged watch that exudes excellent craftsmanship from Citizen – one of the largest watchmakers in the world.
The aesthetic number-full dial is eye-catching and very intriguing, especially to non-watch people. This watch draws attention!
Citizen Eco-Drive BM8180-03E Field Watch
|Citizen BM8180-03E Field Watch Specifications
|Citizen Eco-Drive solar quartz
|37mm (Stainless Steel)
- Good-looking minimalist design with clean & simple dial
- Military-inspired classic style
- Bright & long lasting lume
- I love the green canvas strap
- The strap doesn’t feel comfortable at first
- The crown sticks out a little too far from the case
The first two wristwatches in this list were “hi-tech” timekeepers already, so now I move on to a new minimalist, a simple solar-powered field watch.
The Citizen BM8180-03E is a military-style watch that is simple in design and modest in size. The World War II green color tone and the clear dial with big numbers remind me of my favorite war movies & video games that take place in Europe in the early 20th Century.
Coming along with the simple design is just an essential timekeeping function. No chronograph, no slide rule or tachymeter, no turning bezel. It’s just there on your wrist to tell time. Even the water resistance rating is only 100m (330ft). However, the price is lower than the two previous watches, and the crafting quality is at the same level. Fewer features mean less cost.
The canvas strap makes the watch stand out from other counterparts; it’s rough and exudes military style. It’s durable, too. But unfortunately, it’s not comfortable, at least during the first few weeks of use.
The watch’s face is simple, so you can easily find another strap for it if you want to change the style or tone. But it best suits green canvas straps.
The guarded crown is the detail that needs improvement. It sticks out too much from the case, making the overall design look unbalanced. However, it’s not a huge issue. The owner will notice this tiny flaw, like minor scratches on the SSC017’s bezel.
I don’t need to tell you again about the excellent quality of Citizen Eco-Drive watches. They are durable, accurate, and do not need battery replacement. You already know.
To clarify, this is not an actual field watch. For the actual military watches, I have another list here.
Is it for you?
As I said, the case is relatively small compared to most men’s watches nowadays, but it’s for the sake of classic style. Wristwatches of old times were not big or complicated, and that’s what Citizen tried to imitate. The BM8180-03E is not a highly-featured watch but a small time-telling companion clinging to your wrist.
Best Digital Solar Watches
Casio PathFinder PAG240-1CR Multi-Function Sport Watch
|Casio PathFinder PAG240-1CR Specifications
- Look like a tank on the wrist with rugged, aggressive finish & hi-tech appearance
- Lots of advanced features designed for outdoor adventures
- The dial is well-protected by the bezel
- Built to survive physical abuse (But don’t torture it too much, please.)
- The resin band feels not so comfortable
- The dial is rather small compared to the case size
Enough of talking about exquisite analog timepieces. Now we’re going to explore the world of digital beasts.
The first one I want to introduce is the Casio PathFinder PAG240-1CR. It’s a multi-function sports watch designed to be your reliable companion for outdoor adventures. What do you have with this watch?
- A digital compass to show you the general direction (just in general, remember, don’t rely on it too much.)
- Altimeter, Barometer, Thermometer, almost all kinds of “meter.”
- Sunrise/ Sunset Time: Many users bought the watch because of this feature. It’s extremely useful when you have an outdoor trip somewhere you’ve never been to before. For example, with this feature, you can plan accordingly, leave a potentially dangerous spot and settle down in a safe place before sunset.
- Water Resistance – 100m (330ft) – except for deep diving, you can do whatever you want without worrying about water or mud getting inside the watch.
- Low-temperature Resistance (-10ºC or 14ºF) – Don’t worry about the watch getting frozen. It’s fine. Take care of yourself instead.
- And many features you often see on a digital watch: Multiple Timezones, Countdown Timers, Power-saving Functions,etc.
You can check the complete list with details in Casio’s manual; it’s too much to discuss here.
Are you satisfied with the watch’s features? Now, we move on to the design. Pictures don’t do the watch justice. It’s much better looking in person. With no flashy ornament, the watch is beautiful in a different way – rugged, aggressive, and very practical.
51mm is the average size in digital watches. Still, the Casio Pathfinder looks larger than its size thanks to five big buttons (for easy push) around the case and a prominent bezel protecting the small dial below. It looks like a modern tank on the wrist.
Casio digital watches are widely used in military forces, so it’s no surprise to see such an aggressive & robust look on the Pathfinder. This type of design is what Casio’s best at.
The resin band is durable & blends in well with the case. The buckle is very safe, too. However, most of Casio’s digital watches don’t have a comfortable band. They tend to focus more on the watch case.
Fortunately, the PathFinder looks great with a NATO strap and feels more comfortable.
Regarding the movement, it’s a solar quartz caliber similar to Seiko & Citizen watches above. It just runs off a few monthly seconds and stores energy enough for 6-month continuous use.
With more advanced features and a backlight, the watch may consume more power than traditional analog timepieces, but you need to live in the total dark for a few months to ensure the watch runs out of battery. It recharges itself daily.
Is it for you?
A tank-like body has lots of useful features for most outdoor activities. That’s what you get from the Casio PathFinder PAG240-1CR. This watch offers you so much compared to what it costs. It’s one of the best solar watches under $200 in the market now. A few minor flaws are inevitable with many complex functions, but this would be a manageable issue.
Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400-1CR
|Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400-1CR Specifications
- Combine advanced features of Casio Protrek & highly shock-resistant body of Casio G-Shock
- Sturdy look with heavy weight, give users a more solid feel
- 200m (660ft) Water Resistance despite not being a dive watch
- Can take lots of physical abuse
- The resin band is not so comfortable
- Not for small wrist people
The Casio PathFinder is robust enough. I now want to introduce to you an even tougher beast. It’s the Casio G-Shock Rangeman – one of the most high-end products in the whole G-Shock series, just second to the Casio Frogman.
As you know, the Protrek series is best at providing many advanced features necessary for outdoor adventures. G-Shock is the product line of rugged & durable watches from the start (guided by Casio’s “Triple 10” development concept).
However, with the Casio Rangeman, you will get everything. It gets the best of both worlds. The price is a little (I mean “double”) higher than other G-Shocks, but it’s worth the money.
You can check the complete feature list on Casio’s website or in their manual. Here I mention some of the most interesting:
Sunrise/ Sunset Time: Many users bought the Rangeman because of this feature. It’s handy when you have an outdoor trip somewhere you’ve never been to before. For example, with this feature, you can plan accordingly, leave a potentially dangerous spot and settle down in a safe place before sunset.
Digital compass with analog direction indicator: You can see a correct orientation through a needle on the dial, not just general direction displayed through some simple letters.
For the thermometer, some said it’s not correct. Yes, it can’t be accurate if you check the temperature when wearing your watch because your body temperature affects the result. Take it off your wrist (10 – 15 minutes), and you will have a correct result now.
All the functions work well, but some are excellent and quite reliable to some level. Accept it; nothing is perfect (in this price range).
The water resistance is up to 200m (660ft). Maybe I don’t need to explain this number to you anymore. It’s ideal for an outdoor watch.
Regarding the design, all Casio G-Shocks are solid & robust, but this Rangeman has reached the extreme level. Besides the shock-resistant body with a thick bezel offering excellent protection to the dial, the heavy weight of this watch is another plus. A few more pounds don’t hurt anything, but it makes you feel stronger and more confident with the watch on your wrist. That being said, some users still prefer lighter watches for convenience; it’s a matter of choice.
I love the silver buttons; they offer something to focus on when looking at the watch. They also blend in with the red accents, so the overall design looks not too monotonous.
This version I introduced to you has a positive display for easier reading, but I know some of you prefer a negative display. You can change it yourself or opt for another version of Rangeman with a negative display.
53mm is not too big, but it’s certainly not for small-wrist people. Besides, the guards around the push buttons stick out too far, making the watch look more prominent than its diameter.
Many users have also reported that the watch can last for years after continuous use. For those who care about durability.
Is it for you?
The price is higher than other G-shock watches, but it’s still an absolute bargain compared to what the Casio Rangeman offers. High water resistance, useful advanced features designed for outdoor adventures, extremely robust body with a solid weight. It’s an excellent fully-featured watch that can operate years after year. What else can we ask for? Just make sure it doesn’t look too big on your wrist.
Best Ana-Digi Solar Watches
Casio G-Shock (G-Steel) GSTS110-1A
|Casio G-Shock (G-Steel) GSTS110-1A Specifications
|Resin or Stainless Steel
- Get the best of both worlds: analog &digital display, sharp stainless steel case with shock-absorbing resin layer
- Sporty but dressy looking – You can wear it with anything except for highly formal suits
- 200m (660ft) Water Resistance despite not being a dive watch
- Can take lots of physical abuse (despite looking more elegant – it’s still a G-Shock)
- Too much text on the bezel
- Don’t be fooled by the pics, it’s big
To finish this list, I want to bring an exceptional watch. It’s the Casio G-Shock GSTS110-1A.
The G-Shock series has been known for long as sturdy shock-resistant watches with force-absorbing resin bodies. They’re tough, but they miss something only metal watches hold. To some users, it’s the sharpness. To others, it’s the silver flares from the metal surface, the heavyweight, the cold feeling when you touch it with your fingers, etc. And Casio knows that. That’s why they’ve introduced the 2nd G-Shock Generation, called G-Steel – the hybrid between resin & metal watches.
Casio changed the crafting material from resin to stainless steel without betraying their “Triple 10” development concept. They designed the G-Steel as a multi-layer watch with a thick shock-absorbing resin layer between the case back and the upper body to reduce the external forces on the hard metal surfaces. So the Shock-Resistance doesn’t have to compromise.
The G-Steel is not as resilient as the traditional G-Shock, but the difference is nominal. It’s still a highly rugged solar watch.
The overall look of this G-Steel is very sharp; that’s what I like most about it. There’s nothing redundant. Because of this, the watch looks smaller than its actual size (52.4mm). The push buttons and the guards are relatively small compared to the case, making it look more elegant & simple than other watches of the same size. The dial is the only focal point when you look at this watch.
Many users bought this watch because of its clean dressable style, which they can not get from extremely sporty-looking traditional G-Shocks. It fits well with any apparel except for formal suits.
The main dial looks clean & organized, even with lots of details. The silver tone contrasts very well with the black background, giving the watch a cool & eye-catching appearance. People can spot it on your wrist from far away.
The ana-digi display with three subdials is another trait that’s worth noting. Although sometimes the two hands obscure the digital display, it’s a minor issue for most users. The watch looks much better with these two hands.
I love how Casio made the hour markers & bordered the day subdial with metal. This style, combined with the brushed stainless steel case, makes you feel the sharpness from the inside out. A big plus.
This G-Steel GSTS110-1A is available with a resin strap (recommended) or stainless steel bracelet. It’s a matter of choice. I prefer this watch with a resin strap.
Regarding functions, this watch is less highly-featured than the Casio Rangeman or Casio Protrek above. No meters or sunrise/sunset times. Just countdown timer, world time, and a few more essential features for a standard digital watch.
A G-Shock like that requires 200m (660ft) water resistance.
The green lume on two hands could be better, but the double LED light is a plus. You can read the whole face & three subdials easily with it.
The solar battery can provide enough power for up to 8 months of regular use and 19 months in power-saving mode after a full charge. Quite impressive.
About accuracy, you can expect it to run off around 15 seconds per month.
Is it for you?
The Casio G-Shock (G-Steel) GSTS110-1A is a hybrid watch in terms of material (resin + stainless steel) & display (analog + digital). If you want a shock-resistant watch with a dressable style, it’s a perfect choice. The sharp look with its silver-tone makes it stand out from other watches.
That being said, please notice that it’s not designed for smaller wrists and is quite thick, too. After all, it’s still a G-Shock, and most G-Shocks are big.
This list is a summary based on my humble knowledge of wristwatches. Through a lot of research and comparisons, I’ve narrowed down the options of the best solar watches into these six timepieces. They’re all high-quality watches from prestige brands that only cost a little of your hard-earned money. Each of them has Pros & Cons, but the overall benefit outweighs their minor flaws.
Here I tried to list timepieces of various styles (military, diving, aviation, trekking & hiking, ana-digi hybrid) for you to make decisions more easily! If you love the overall design but prefer another color tone or a different band, try checking out more variations of this watch. You will find the version that best fits your need.
Have fun shopping!