Top 6 Best Solar Watches For Your Money – 2019

Are you in search for a high-quality solar watch which is also budget-friendly? Then you are in the right place now!

I know it can be quite a chore to choose a timepiece that suits your need among thousands of options out there in the watch market. That’s why I’ve managed to come up with a list of the best solar watches that are really worth your hard-earned money!

My list consists of analog & digital watches, with various styles, ranging from dive watch, pilot watch, field watch, to trekking watch for outdoor activities to maximize your chance of selecting a perfect timepiece of your taste.

Now, let’s begin!

Image Product Details
sample-table__image My Favorite Choice, ISO-certified Dive Watch Seiko SSC017 Prospex
  • Meets all ISO standards for a true dive watch
  • Excellent craftsmanship for the price
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sample-table__image Best Solar Professional Pilot Watch Citizen Eco Drive NightHawk
  • Attractive aviation dial
  • Outstanding reliability & Hi-tech features for pilots
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sample-table__image Minimalist Field Watch Citizen Eco-Drive BM8180-03E
  • Classic military style
  • Good bang for your buck
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sample-table__image Great Outdoor Watch For Your Money Casio PathFinder PAG240-1CR
  • Lots of useful features for outdoor use
  • Designed to survive harsh environments
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sample-table__image Best Digital Watch For Multi-purpose Use Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400-1CR
  • Hi-tech & extreme ruggedness in a single watch
  • It's like a tank on your wrist
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sample-table__image Most Beautiful G-Shock Casio G-Shock (G-Steel) GSTS110-1A
  • Most elegant & dressy G Shock
  • Second to none of other G-Shocks regarding toughness
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Best Analog Solar Watches

Seiko SSC017 Prospex – Solar Powered Chronograph Dive Watch

Seiko SSC017 Prospex - Solar Powered Chronograph Dive Watch
Seiko SSC017 Prospex Specifications
Crystal Seiko Hardlex
Movement Seiko V175 solar quartz
Band Material Stainless Steel
Case Diameter 44mm (Stainless Steel)
Case Thickness 14mm
Bezel Uni-directional
Water Resistance 200m (660ft)
Pros

  • 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)

Cons

  • 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 really love the design of this watch, it can look cool & sporty or elegant, depending on your apparel. Although it’s not meant to be a dress watch, you can wear it to the office with a shirt. The case is not thick (just 14mm), so it fits well 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 as well as make it look more elegant. That’s what I like most about this watch, as I love a versatile timepiece with a balanced look!

What’s not to love is the stainless steel bracelet! I mean it’s not on par with the extremely well-made case. It’s not ugly, not rattling, but it’s merely there to wrap around your wrist, not to add any charm to the watch! Fortunately, the watch looks aesthetic on leather or fabric NATO/Zulu straps, and there’re plenty of aftermarket watch bands 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 is not always easy! But don’t worry, minor scratches can’t make your watch look like a mess, most of my dive watches look like new even after they accumulated 10+ wounds on the bezel!

Regarding Water resistance & Diving function, Seiko claims that all their dive watches are in compliance with ISO 6425 standards. If this is 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 advertisement! 200m (660ft) water resistance is more than enough for most scuba dives. Besides, almost no users complained about the watch’s malfunction underwater up to now!

To make the watch more irresistible, Seiko added the chronograph feature not only for counting time but also making the piece look cooler & sportier with two guarded push buttons and three subdials.

And…what about the lume? In its price range, Seiko SSC017 has the best lume compared to other counterparts. Seiko’s Lumibrite technology offers you an outstanding reading experience in low-light conditions. The lume is not only bright, but also 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 really a workhorse. As a quartz movement, it just runs off about 15 seconds per month, depending on the temperature. The solar battery can store up energy enough for 6-month continuous use. You don’t have to use it every day to get the battery charged!

Is it for you?

To wrap it up, if you want a versatile fully-featured dive watch which 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, 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 Eco Drive NightHawk BJ7000-52E Pilot Watch
Citizen NightHawk BJ7000-52E Specifications
Crystal Mineral
Movement Citizen Eco-Drive solar quartz
Band Material Stainless Steel
Case Diameter 42mm (Stainless Steel)
Case Thickness 13mm
Water Resistance 200m (660ft)
Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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, crowded with so many numbers, scales, arcs, and it even has for hands indicating different information. The dial is something you just 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 not messy!

I’m talking about those who are just ordinary watch people, not pilots. If you are a real aviator, I think you would consider NightHawk a reliable fully-featured tool which happens to be a nice-looking fashion item.

What I like most about this watch is the sharp body, from lugs, case to crowns. The brushed silver finish also adds much to the coolness of this watch, 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 really 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 watch. 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 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, that’s cool. You can wear it to 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 you 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 panel on the watch can absorb it and convert into energy and store up for months. You won’t ever get near the empty point despite the fact that Citizen provides you 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 which exudes excellent craftsmanship from Citizen – one of the largest watch makers in the world.

The aesthetic number-full dial is not only eye-catching but also very intriguing, especially to non-watch people! This watch draws attention!

Citizen Eco-Drive BM8180-03E Field Watch

Citizen Eco-Drive BM8180-03E Field Watch
Citizen BM8180-03E Field Watch Specifications
Crystal Mineral
Movement Citizen Eco-Drive solar quartz
Band Material Stainless Steel
Case Diameter 37mm (Stainless Steel)
Case Thickness 10mm
Water Resistance 100m (330ft)
Pros

  • Good-looking minimalist design with clean & simple dial
  • Military-inspired classic style
  • Bright & long lasting lume
  • I love the green canvas strap

Cons

  • 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 one which is kind of 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. In the age of 40+mm wristwatches, a 37mm timepiece is not so trendy…but it’s classic! From the World-War-II green color tone to the clear dial with big numbers, it reminds me of my favorite war movies & video games that take place in the Europe of the early 20th Century.

Coming along with the simple design is just 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 pretty lower than the two previous watches, and the crafting quality is at the same level. Fewer features mean less cost.

The canvas strap is what 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 a few first weeks of using!

The watch face is simple, so you can find another strap for it with ease if you want to change the style or tone. But I think it best suits green canvas straps.

The guarded crown is the detail that needs improvement, it sticks out a little too much from the case, making the overall design looks unbalanced. However, I think it’s not a huge issue, just you – the owner, will pay attention to this tiny flaw, like a few minor scratches on the SSC017’s bezel.

Perhaps I don’t need to tell you again about the excellent quality of Citizen Eco-Drive watches: durable, accurate, no need battery replacement… You already know!

Just to make it clear, this is not a real field watch, you know? Because the case is polished. Imagining you wear it to the battlefield, and your beautiful watch reflects under the sunshine for your enemies to see miles away…BANG!!!! Game over! Real field watches have brushed or matte finish to avoid this kind of situation!

For the true military watches, I have another list here!

Is it for you!

As I said, the case is rather small compared to most men’s watches nowadays, but it’s for the sake of classic style. Wristwatches of old time were not big, were not complicated, and that’s what Citizen tried to imitate. The BM8180-03E is not a highly-featured watch; it’s just a small time-telling companion clinging on your wrist.

Best Digital Solar Watches

Casio PathFinder PAG240-1CR Multi-Function Sport Watch

Casio PathFinder PAG240-1CR Multi-Function Sport Watch
Casio PathFinder PAG240-1CR Specifications
Crystal Mineral
Movement Solar quartz
Band Material Resin
Case Diameter 51mm (Resin)
Case Thickness 15mm
Water Resistance 100m (330ft)
Pros

  • 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!)

Cons

  • 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 to you is the Casio PathFinder PAG240-1CR. It’s a multi-function sports watch designed to be your reliable companion in any outdoor adventures. What do you have with this watch?

  • A digital compass to show you the general direction (just general, remember, don’t rely on it too much!)
  • Altimeter, Barometer, Thermometer,…almost all kinds of “meter.”
  • Sunrise/ Sunset Time: Lots of users bought the watch because of this feature. It’s extremely useful when you have an outdoor trip at somewhere you’ve never been to before. For example, with this feature, you can make plan accordingly, leave a potentially dangerous spot and settle down to a safe place before the 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 a lot of features you often see on a digital watch: Multiple Timezones, Countdown Timer, Power-saving Function,etc…

You can check the full list with details in Casio’s manual; it’s too much to talk about here!

Are you satisfied with the watch’s features? Now, we move on to the design. I have to say that pictures don’t do the watch justice! It’s much better looking in person! No flashy ornament, the watch is beautiful in a different way – rugged, aggressive and very practical.

51mm is the average size in the world of digital watches, but 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 really 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 & blend in well with the case, the buckle is very safe, too! However, to be honest, most of Casio 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 certainly feels more comfortable!

Regarding the movement, it’s a solar quartz caliber which is similar to those of Seiko & Citizen watches above, just runs off a few seconds per month and stores energy enough for 6-month continuous use.

With more advanced features and a backlight, the watch may consume more power compared to traditional analog timepieces, but unless you have to live in the total dark for a few months, there’s no way the watch runs out of battery! It recharges itself on a daily basis!

Is it for you?

A tank-like body, lots of useful features for most outdoor activities, that’s what you get from the Casio PathFinder PAG240-1CR. In my opinion, 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! With lots of complex functions, a few minor flaws are inevitable, but this would not be a huge issue!

Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400-1CR

Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400-1CR
Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400-1CR Specifications
Crystal Mineral
Movement Solar quartz
Band Material Resin
Case Diameter 53mm (Resin)
Case Thickness 18mm
Water Resistance 200m (330ft)
Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • The resin band is not so comfortable
  • Not for small wrist people

The Casio PathFinder is robust enough, I now I want to introduce to you an even tougher beast, it’s the Casio G-Shock Rangeman – one of the most hi-end products in whole the G-Shock series, just second to the Casio Frogman!

As you know, the Protrek series is best at providing lots of advanced features that are 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 won’t miss out on anything, it gets the best of both worlds. The price is a little (I mean “double”) higher than other G-Shocks, but it’s really worth the money!

You can check the full feature list on Casio’s website or in their manual. Here I just mention some of the most interesting:

Sunrise/ Sunset Time: Lots of users bought the Rangeman because of this feature. It’s extremely useful when you have an outdoor trip at somewhere you’ve never been to before. For example, with this feature, you can make plan accordingly, leave a potentially dangerous spot and settle down to a safe place before the sunset.

Digital compass with analog direction indicator: Not just general direction displayed through some simple letters, now you can see a correct orientation through a needle on the dial.

For the thermometer, some said it’s not correct. Yes, it can’t be correct if you check the temperature when wearing your watch because the result is affected by your own body temp. 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 some are just quite reliable to some level! Accept it; nothing is perfect (in this price range, of course)!

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, buts this Rangeman has reached the level of extreme. Besides the shock-resistant body with 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 confident with your watch on the wrist. That being said, some users still prefer lighter watches for more convenience; it’s the matter of choice!

I love the silver buttons; they offer you something to focus on when looking at the watch. They also blend in very well with the red accents, so the overall design looks not too monotonous!

This version I introduced to you has a positive display for easier read, but I know some of you prefer negative display, you can either change it by yourself or opt for another version of Rangeman which has 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 a little too far, making the watch looks larger than its actual diameter!

Lots of users have also reported that the watch can last for years after years of continous use. For those who care about durability!

Is it for you?

Yeah, the price is higher than other G-shock watches, but compared to what the Casio Rangeman can offer you, it’s still a real bargain! High water resistance, bunch of useful advanced features designed for outdoor adventures, extremely robust body with solid weight. It’s a cool fully-featured watch that can operate for years after years. What else can we ask for? Just make sure it doesn’t look too big on your wrist!

Best Ana-Digi Solar Watch

Casio G-Shock (G-Steel) GSTS110-1A

Casio G-Shock (G-Steel) GSTS110-1A
Casio G-Shock (G-Steel) GSTS110-1A Specifications
Crystal Mineral
Movement Solar quartz
Band Material Resin or Stainless Steel
Case Diameter 52mm (Resin)
Case Thickness 16mm
Water Resistance 200m (660ft)
Pros

  • 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)

Cons

  • Too much text on the bezel
  • Don’t be fooled by the pics, it’s big!

To finish this list, I want to bring a very special watch on the table. 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 body. 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, or it’s the heavyweight, the cold feeling when you touch it with your fingers, etc…

And Casio knows that! That’s why they’ve managed to introduce 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 put on the hard metal surfaces. So the Shock-Resistance doesn’t have to compromise!

To be honest, the G-Steel is not as resilient as the traditional G-Shock, but the difference is nominal! It’s still an extremely 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 a little smaller than its actual size (52.4mm). The push buttons and the guards are rather small compared to the case, making it look more elegant  & simple than other watches with the same size, the dial is the only focal point when you look at this watch.

Lots of 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 not a huge issue for most users! In my opinion, 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 really feel the sharpness from the inside out! A big plus!

What’s not to love is the text-filled bezel, I think Casio should write less to make the watch look cleaner, users can get their information in the manual!

This G-Steel GSTS110-1A is available with resin strap (recommended) or stainless steel bracelet. It’s the matter of choice! I prefer this watch with resin strap!

When it comes to functions, this watch is not highly-featured as 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.

200m (660ft) water resistance is expected from a G-Shock like that!

The green lume on two hands is not so good, 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 normal 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 dressable style, it’s a perfect choice! The sharp look with silver tone is what makes it stand out from other watches.

That being said, please notice that it’s not designed for small wrist people, and it’s quite thick, too. After all, it’s still a G-Shock, and most G-Shocks are big!

Verdict

This list is a summary based on my humble knowledge about 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 which don’t cost too much of your hard earned money. Each of them has Pros & Cons, but the overall benefit outweighs their small flaws in the end!

Here I tried to list out timepieces of various styles (military, diving, aviation, trekking & hiking, ana-digi hybrid) for you to make decision more easily! If you love the overall design, but prefer some other color tone or a different band, try checking out more variations of the target watch, chances are you will find the version that best fits your need!

Have fun shopping!

Related Reviews:

Best Military Watches

Best Compass Watches For Outdoor Activities

Best G-Shock Military Watches

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