10 BEST Solar Powered Dive Watches Across All Brands (2023)
Ever had your power reserve run out just as you were about to use the chronograph function? Was your quartz movement not quite enough to impress that watch dude at your business meeting?
Well, how about the Solar watches? Better yet, how about combining the functionality of a solar watch with the utility of a dive watch?
Solar dive watches are not for everyone, but when you start thinking about all the versatility they offer, they might be a dark horse…
About Solar Dive Watches
As you may know, watches either come with a mechanical or quartz movement. Well, not all. There are a few that are slightly different from the rest, like the Spring Drive from Grand Seiko. However, rising above all the rest is the Solar watch.
As the name suggests, these types of watches are powered by solar energy or by artificial light. Typically, the solar panel(s) are located behind the crystal of the watch. From there, it’s simple physics really; sunlight is absorbed by the PV cells in the panel, and the energy is converted into electrical charges that move in response to an internal electric field in the cell, causing electricity to flow.
This electricity is then transferred into a rechargeable cell to power the watch during dark times. This unique technological approach might not seem the most romantic of all the watches you could get your hands on, but it is something that is remarkably useful in actual tool watches.
This is why you find it in dive, field, and aviation watches. These were engineered to be as practical as possible, and what’s more practical than being powered by a massive nuclear fusion reactor millions of miles away?
The History Of Solar Dive Watches
While watches have been worn all throughout the 1900s, the first wristwatch to be powered by the sun was the Synchronar 2100, developed by an American engineer named Roger W. Riehl in 1972. The watch was quirky, and while it was visionary, it wasn’t incredibly sleek.
The top of the watch featured two large panels while the time was digitally displayed on the side; funnily enough, this makes it a rather food driver’s watch. This was just after Seiko released the first quartz-powered watch in 1969, so the world was eager for more development.
From there, the technology was relegated to more cost-effective wristwatches, especially those made in Japan. While some Swiss companies have made use of the tech, it’s certainly not commonplace.
It’s unclear which watch was the first dive watch to be powered by a solar unit, but it’s likely to come from one of the Japanese giants like Seiko, Citizen, or Orient.
Should You Buy A Solar Dive Watch?
The big question you might be asking at the end of this list is whether you need a solar dive watch or not. Before we even dive into the list, you should first ask whether or not you even want a dive watch. Dive watches are typically bulkier and larger than others, so if you only have a 5.8-inch wrist, these may not be the best option.
If you are a person that does regular diving, this might be the perfect watch for you, even more so for those that work on ships or boats. You might not always be moving enough to wind a rotor, and your sudden movements might damage the mainspring. A solar-powered dive watch would be perfect, seeing as it can gain power from the sun, which is always available, it’s robust enough to survive the environment, and fantastic water resistance.
That said, there are also a lot of premier watch collectors that own some of these pieces as a ‘beater’. These are watches you wear when you know you might be in a rough-and-tumble environment and you don’t want to scratch that Rainbow Daytona you just bought.
10 Best Solar Dive Watches
1. Seiko Prospex SNE575
Seiko is one of the most well-known brands on the planet, especially when it comes to cost-effective dive watches. The Prospex range occupies part of the market for individuals looking for something slightly more robust and upmarket than the Seiko 5. Presented here is the ref. SNE575, a 38.5mm steel diver with a no-nonsense approach to utility.
Designed to actually be used by divers, emphasized by the “PADI” writing at the 6 o’clock position because the watch is part of the ‘The Professional Association of Diving Instructors’, and the PADI writing on the watch is exclusive to Seiko. With a lug-to-lug of 46.5mm, the watch wears very true to the 38.5mm diameter, and thanks to the 10.6mm diameter, the watch has a very subtle wearing experience despite the utility.
The dial features an engraving reminiscent of the longitude and latitude lines of the globe featuring large hour markers filled with luminescence. A solid 200m water resistance rating with a unidirectional bezel is accentuated by the solar caliber V147 which has an accuracy of ±15 seconds per month.
2. Citizen Promaster Diver Blue Dial (ref. BN0168-06L)
While the first ‘Pepsi-colored’ dial was created with the GMT Master ref. 1675 from Rolex, many other brands have also utilized the combination of the two contrasting colors. One of those brands is Citizen, like with this ref. BN0168-06L Promaster Diver.
The Promaster line is the robust and utilitarian line from Citizen, as presented with this 44m steel diver matched with a blue polyurethane strap. The bezel colors continue on the dial, as the blue dial is matched with a large red minute hand and equally large hour markers. If this watch could scream, it’d be screaming utility and legibility.
A date aperture without a cyclops is located at the 4 o’clock position to double down on the practicality of the timepiece. All the functions are powered by the caliber E168, an Eco-drive movement that is Citizen’s solar-powered unit. The watch is also ISO-compliant, with a water resistance measurement of 200m.
3. Casio MTPS110-1AV
Casio is perhaps the single most loved brand from the kid down the street rocking his G-Shock to the collector whose daily is a Paul Newman Daytona. Both will own Casios and love them for their utility and honesty.
This ref. MTPS110-1AV down-to-earth tool watch comes in two variations, one in blue and one in black. The dial is matched with a yellow or red minute and seconds hand, respectively, and at the 3 o’clock position, you’ll find a day-date function.
The diameter is slightly larger compared to some of the others, measuring 46.9mm. A solid 100m water resistance matched with a mineral crystal and the utility of a solar power unit makes this the perfect ‘beater’ watch, or perhaps a watch you just wear when out and about working on your yacht.
4. TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph (ref. WBP1112.FT6199)
TAG Heuer is known for making some of the better watches for their price point. The first Aquaracer was presented in 2003 and has since become a mainstay in their lineup, ranging from quartz movements to automatic versions. The ref. WBP1112.FT6199, or the Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph, is a solar-powered version and sports a rather stealthy appearance.
A 40mm DLC-coated sandblasted black case is matched with a black bezel that features an insert made from carbon fused with luminous material, which massively increases legibility. The whole dial is highly legible thanks to copious amounts of lume on the hour markers and hands.
The Solargraph caliber TH50-00 powers the watch and is based on the Citizen E168, displaying the time and the date at the 3 o’clock position on a sunray-finished black dial.
5. Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar (ref. T121.420.47.051.00)
Tissot presents some of the best value-for-money timepieces on the Swiss market, like this T-Touch Connect Solar ref. T121.420.47.051.00. Walking a thin line between a smartwatch and a regular watch might upset a few individuals, but it does seem to walk the line rather well.
A digital display is located on the lower half of the dial, but you still have the normal three-hand display, so, the best of both worlds. The black display is still highly legible thanks to the not-so-subtle use of red on the seconds hand and the tip of the minute hand.
A ceramic bezel elevates both the resistance to scratches but also features the four main compass directions, which matches the utility of the ‘smart part’ of the T-Touch, which according to Tissot, includes but is not limited to an altimeter, compass, perpetual calendar, alarm, time, time zones, automatic daylight saving time, timer, chrono split, chrono lap, chrono log book, and a step counter.
The watch measures a whopping 47.50mm in diameter, so it certainly is not for everyone, but when considering the utility of the piece, it’s to be expected.
6. Lum-Tec Solar Marine 2
If you’re looking for a more subtle approach to the dive watch category, perhaps the Lum-Tec Solar Marine is the option for you. The watch is limited to merely 500 pieces worldwide, so it’s unlikely you’ll ever see someone else wearing one.
Measuring at a dainty 39mm with a bead-blasted finish to improve durability. The main feature your eyes will be attracted to is the white steel insert on the bezel fixed with lume for added legibility.
The watch’s overall look is also subtle thanks to the titanium carbide gunmetal PVD hard coating on the case, creating a faded look that doesn’t draw as much attention to itself as other, more colorful divers.
The 300m of water resistance is matched with the 6 months power reserve thanks to the solar-powered caliber VS42A, which is manufactured by Seiko.
7. Vaer D4 Solar Diver 38mm
What about a more compact diver? The Vaer D4 features a subtle 38mm polished case matched with a brushed-finished three-link bracelet or a brown NATO strap. With a lug-to-lug measurement of only 45mm, the watch sits quite comfortably on the wrist despite the 200m of water resistance.
The watch exudes plenty of maritime subtexts with a deep blue dial with golden lined hands and golden text at the 6 o’clock position. In fact, each highly luminous hour marker is also lined with golden effects. An anodized aluminum bezel insert featuring 120-click technology surrounds the dial in a similar blue hue.
The movement within is the Epson VS22 solar movement with an accuracy rating of -30 / +30 sec per month. The bracelet is rather special at the price point of $359 – $449. It features four micro-adjustments, solid end links, and an 18mm taper.
8. Momentum Torpedo Pro Eclipse Solar
With a name like Torpedo, you already know what type of watch you’re about to deal with. A 44mm steel diver with 200m of water resistance thanks to a screw-down crown. The crown is located at the 4 o’clock position to avoid the “wrist-bite” we so often experience with regular crowns.
Behind the sapphire crystal is a black dial with contrasting circular sections, the inner section being slightly transparent and the outer being glossy. Subtle pops of color are courteous of the red seconds hand and the pointer for the date aperture at 4 o’clock. The black rotating bezel features ample impressions to allow it to be easily used even when wearing gloves.
9. Seiko Prospex Tuna “Arnie” SNJ025
Seiko is back again with something for the meathead in your life – the Seiko ref. SNJ025, nicknamed the ‘Arnie’, is a contemporary model of the famous ref. H558 worn by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film The Predator.
The aesthetics didn’t change much, and if Arnie could rock it, then you can imagine the watch being quite large. A case diameter of 47.8mm makes it a unit on the wrist and that excludes the several crowns.
There are crowns to manage both the digital and analog display, as well as the several complications within; the power reserve display function, local time indication mode, stopwatch function, and an alarm.
The watch is (surprise) also ISO-compliant, perhaps making it the dive watch to end all other divers. Powered by the caliber H851 with an accuracy rating of -15 / +15 sec per month. To improve the robust nature of the timepiece, a rubber outer bezel is placed around the dive bezel creating the signature look of the “Arnie”.
10. Citizen Promaster Aqualand (ref. BN2036-14E)
Citizen is another giant in the dive watch world with legendary models like the Promaster range, as presented here with the Aqualand ref. BN2036-14E. With a water resistance rating of 200m, the watch has been awarded the ISO6425 diving certification.
The 46.1mm case is matched with a black polyurethane strap for increased sportiness and utility. The dial not only the regular hours, minutes, and seconds but also a power reserve display, depth meter, and maximum depth memory display. The movement in charge of timekeeping duties is the caliber J250, an Eco-Drive movement with a potential power reserve of 330 days. That’s a lot of diving…
Dive watches are meant to help you in one of the most stressful times you can put yourself in. With the addition of a solar-powered movement, you get all the reliability and accuracy of a quartz watch with none of the battery-dying drawbacks.
A match made in heaven to be found at the depths of the ocean. Or at your desk in the office because the watch looks cool and you like the technological aspect of it – we won’t judge – as long as it makes you happy.