Seiko Solar Watches

Seiko Solar Watches

Seiko Solar Watches Watch Releases See in the image here in their most basic form, watches with Seiko Solar movements have been around since 1977. But now I think Seiko will start focusing on having Seiko Solar watches enter more of the world market (especially in higher-end forms). For most of the world, the predominant light-powered watch is the Citizen Eco-Drive. Citizen was clever about pushing their light powered watches as being more user-friendly than basic quartz watches.

One of the main drawbacks of quartz watches is the need to change the batteries from time to time. Movements such as the Seiko Solar and Citizen Eco-Dive have batteries in the movements that are charged by photovoltaic cells in the watch. The lifespan of these movements (assuming they don't break or malfunction) should be close to one's lifespan. This is due to the tiny amount of power the movements consume, and the fact that on a full charge the watches can last months without light.

I want to make it clear that these watches derive power from more than just sun light. The Seiko "Solar" name can be a bit confusing, but the movements can generate power from all types of light. Of course, the brighter the light, the faster the batteries will change. Sun light will yield the best results.

For most people, light powered quartz movements are going to be exactly the same as ones with replaceable batteries, in terms of living with them. That is unless you live in the dark most of the time. Recent developments from Seiko has produced dials that don't even look like traditional ones on light powered watches. Those familiar with Citizen Eco-Drive watches will be familiar with dials designed to cleverly hide the fact that they are semi-transparent. As you can see above, these new Seiko Solar watches - even at bargain prices have dials that don't look like those we are used to on light-powered watches.

The dial is where light is meant to enter as the photovoltaic cells are located under the dial. Seiko has developed dials that seem totally opaque to the human eye. This advancement could prove very important in Seiko's plans to start replacing many of their existing quartz watch movements with Seiko Solar watch movements.

Seiko Solar Watches Watch Releases

Above you'll find a a collection of dressy style Seiko Solar watches that are currently available in the US. The watches are a bit small at 37mm wide, but were probably created for the Asian market first. They are all in steel cases, some with gold tones applied and are water resistant to 30 meters. Movements have the time and a day/date complication. They are part of the  "SNEXXX" range which are all model references numbers starting with "SNE" followed by three digits. My favorite of the pictures pieces is ref. SNE039. Prices for most Seiko Solar watches are between about $150 - $200.

The future of Seiko Solar is much more exciting. Like I said, Seiko seems to have plans to put Seiko Solar movements in to many other watches, such as more sporty or dive watches. Often these watches has Seiko Kinetic (or other special quartz movements), but Seiko will offer a range of them with the Seiko Solar movements as well. I saw image of a few of these from Japan, and they look cool.

Seiko of course has a dilemma having so many movements available to them. The risk is having the consumer be quite confused. Personally I am not clear as to what is a clear winner between Seiko Solar or Seiko Kinetic watch movements in terms of practicality and lifespan. Seiko Solar watches for the time being are often less expensive that Seiko Kinetic watches (which makes sense), but I have a feeling we are going to be seeing more interesting Seiko Solar watches coming soon.

See Seiko Solar watches available on Amazon here.Seiko Solar Watches Watch Releases

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  • Ulysses

    Interesting that they should try to resurrect this technology, but I suppose they’ve witnessed the runaway success of the Eco-Drive line and want to emulate that. Kinetic powered watches have a tendency for developing mechanical faults that has tarnished the reputation of the entire line, despite most of these flaws being resolved. I reckon solar-powered watches, having no moving parts involved with power generation, would be inherently more reliable. I just wish their designs weren’t quite so bland. Considering that Seiko has a longer and more distinguished heritage than just about any other watch maker on earth, and all their components are designed and manufactured in-house, you’d think they’d be more respected than they are.

  • Will

    While it’s nice to see Seiko trying to branch out in new directions, it seems like they’re chasing a market Citizen already has a firm grasp on. Instead, I’d like to see Seiko put out more watches with mechanical movements in the US.

    It seems to me that most Americans are unaware that Seiko produces quality yet inexpensive mechanical movements. Most “mall” Seiko’s are two toned and quartz, and in my opinion, boring. If Seiko introduced some new movements and watches in the US Market they’d be opening up a market for Japanese automatics that is almost non-existent. Most Japanese watch fans need to import their watches from JDM dealers in order to get quality Japanese automatics. Why not introduce a limited number in the US? There should be less competition too against other Japanese makers.

    • Yes, I agree that the pictured pieces are lackluster, but the point of the article was to also go into how Seiko might be trying to slowly replace all standard quartz movements they have in watches (at least many of them) with Solar movements. As for the second question on why most of the really nice stuff is stuck in Japan only, I can only speculate. Really not sure of the exact reason the whole world doesn’t see them.

    • Dillan K

      One thing I’d like to point out: Seiko has been manufacturing solar powered watches since 1977. This isn’t a ‘new direction’ for them.

  • Leonard H.

    An excellent dive watch with the Seiko solar movement is still available under the Pulsar brand, although the various models seem to be vanishing from the market one by one.
    Just Google (google image too) “solar dive watch” and they’ll probably be the first ones to come up. And the pictures do not nearly do them justice.

  • Kris C

    I’d like to have a solar watch withthe Seiko brand on it (I own a Citizen eco drive), but I’ve yet to see one that I would honestly wear. The ones pictured here are perfect examples of what I wouldn’t buy. Those 2-tone models are hideous, unless you want to look like a 10th grade math teacher from 1987.

    Seiko should just dump quartz movements alltogether. Save maybe the new uber-accurate Astron snoozer they just released – they might as well have ONE model that is laughably overpriced.

  • Ivan Y

    I’ve had a couple of Eco Drives and can’t say anything bad about them. Can’t speak for ALL the models but on ones I have the textured dials look very nice. Citizen makes quality watches, especially JDM models (like “Chronomaster” – super-accurate quarts movement).

    To address other commenters: if I understand correctly, Seiko’s goal is to move to global distribution so eventuall all of their models, even current JDM ones, are going to be sold in the US. Grand Seikos are pretty sweet and should be appearing here soon, if they haven’t arrived yet to select dealers (check out forums for latest info).

  • Jim Giunta

    I have a large collection of watches, about 50, mostly antiques, but about 20 are modern. I have three Citizen Eco-Drives that work well. However, the one drawback is that the mineral glass crystals are VERY easliy scratched. I recently bought a Seiko Solar, to compliment my other Seikos. This will probably be my every day watch, replacing one of my Eco-Drives, as Seikos have a more durable crystal called Hardlex, which is a mineral glass crystal with, I believe, a coating of saphire crystal, or an equilvilant, over the top, for higher scratch resistance. The model I chose is the SNE095P2, a black face military model that is a good utilitarian everyday watch.

  • Norman Diaz

    For Jim G. Citizen also makes models with sapphire crystals which should fill your need for scratch-resistant crystals. My Citizen Eco-Drive BL1181-56LT PC (movement caliber E-760) with sapphire crystal has remained scratch free since I placed it in service in 2005. Of course, I’m a more careful watch wearer than average, IMHO.

  • I purchased this particular Seiko watch after perusing the many, many watches available on This watch is nicely finished with a shiny chrome bezel surrounding the clearly marked black dial, and a satin sheen, silver link type adjustible band, with a pinch type locking clasp. It is solar powered and will run for 10 months after a full single charge, eliminating the need to replace watch batteries. It has a clearly visible, contrasting white, adjustable, day and date readout on the crown side of the watch. The case diameter is not too big, quite slim, and not bulky on the wrist. Best of all, the purchase price of this nice looking watch was very reasonable, with no delivery charges. If your looking for a simple watch that looks quite elegant, keeps accurate time, and won’t break the budget – this may be the watch for you !

  • EricKetchum

    Just love my Seiko Solar Divers SNE107 with bracelet.  Very impressive, you cannot tell by the looks that it is solar, other than it says so on the watch.  Also typical quartz accuracy, beating automatics soundly (mine is typically about +5 seconds/month or less), at least in this price range.  Built like a tank that kills tanks, and at the same time beautiful and stylish.  Probably won’t ever need another watch, but am considering a SRP311 (2nd generation automatic) for something non-reflective when hunting or spearfishing and for something that can be kept unused for long periods of time in a drawer or such without a battery to get damaged by no charging.

  • Jens Lipponer

    I see that their are Chinese solar watches with Japanese movements out there and quite cheap. I wonder which movement, Ill have to just buy one and open it up…