A solar-powered dive watch offers convenience and peace of mind over mechanical and battery-powered dive watches. Unlike a mechanical watch, a solar-charged watch will still run for many months if not worn at all. Unlike a battery-powered watch, a solar watch does not need costly and time-consuming maintenance every few years.
Solar-powered watches use solar cell panels in the watch dial to convert light into energy. This energy is then stored in a rechargeable battery or capacitor to power the watch. Solar-powered watches can be charged from any type of light source, from indoor fluorescent lighting to the sun.
Three companies dominate the solar watch market: Casio, Citizen, and Seiko. Casio uses the “Tough Solar” feature in many of its watches including its G-Shock and Pro Trek brands. Citizen uses its solar “Eco-Drive” technology in hundreds of models. Seiko simply labels its many solar watches as “Solar.”
Despite the large number of solar watches on the market, there are only a few solar-powered dive watches. True diving watches should be compliant with the ISO 6425 standard and are suitable for scuba diving. In order to qualify as one of the best solar-powered dive watches, all watches on this list must have an ISO-certified water-resistance rating of 200-meters (or 20ATM). The ISO-certification is commonly indicated on the dial with a “Diver’s” label before the water-resistance rating (e.g. “Diver’s 200M”).
Seiko Prospex SNE437P1
Diver’s 200M solar watch with classic style
The Seiko Prospex SNE437P1 has a classic diving style that is a good choice for those who want a traditional diving watch. This solar-powered watch has a rotating bezel, Lumibrite hands and markers, and a date display. It is made of stainless steel with a Hardlex crystal, and it has excellent quartz accuracy of ± 15 seconds a month.
Seiko Prospex SSC015P1
Solar Dive Watch with Chronograph
The highly-rated Seiko SSC019 has the added features of a chronograph and a 24 hour subdial. The stopwatch is capable of measuring 1/20 second up to 60 minutes. The watch has a classic look with a 43mm-wide one-way bezel and subtle silver and black style.
G-Shock Frogman GWF-A1000
First Analog Frogman, with Radio Time Sync, Tide Graph, Bluetooth
The G-Shock GWF-A1000 is the first Frogman model with an analog display. It is also housed in a lightweight carbon monocoque case instead of the previous stainless steel or titanium screw-back models. With a non-rotating stainless steel bezel, this diving watch has a unique and innovative way of measuring the elapsed dive time by combining the hour and minute hands into a single hand for easy-to-read measurements. When measuring surface interval time, both hands are used to measure hours and minutes, and the second hand runs in reverse. The new Frogman also has Multi-Band 6 automatic radio time-syncing, a tide graph, and Bluetooth smartphone link. As the Frogman line is the only G-Shock line with ISO Diver’s 200M water resistance (versus the standard 200-meter water resistance of other G-Shock watches), the GWF-A1000 is considered to be one of the highest quality G-Shock watches and the best for diving. The GWFA1000 has the superior shock resistance you would expect from a G-Shock, and it is recommended for those who want a large and very durable watch.
Seiko Prospex SNE435
Special PADI Edition with Stainless Steel Band
The Seiko Prospex SNE435 has the same case and specs as the SNE441, but with a blue design and a stainless steel band. This watch is a special edition made in partnership with PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), and it has a PADI logo on the dial.
Citizen Promaster Diver BN0150-28E
Traditional Dive Watch with Eco-Drive Solar Power
The Citizen Promaster Diver BN0150-28E also has a classic dive watch design and uses Eco-Drive solar technology. Eco-Drive watches are known for using a capacitor rather than a rechargeable battery and Citizen says it “never needs a battery.” This 42mm-wide dive watch has a one-way rotating bezel, polyurethane strap, and a mineral crystal with anti-reflective coating. The lower band has N.D. (no-decompression) limits printed on it, which may not be visible in the product photos.
Citizen Promaster Diver BN0151-09L
In Blue with N.D. Limits Printed on Band
The Citizen Promaster Diver BN0151-09L is essentially the same as the BN0150-28E above, but with a blue dial and bezel, and a blue band with the N.D. limits printed on it too.
Seiko Prospex SSC019
Solar Dive Watch with Stopwatch
The Seiko SSC019 has the same solar and chronograph features as the Seiko SSC015P1 above, but with a blue and red bezel and blue dial.
Citizen Promaster Diver BJ8050-08E Eco-Drive
The Promaster Diver BJ8050-08E is a solar Eco-Drive-powered diving watch that has an ISO Diver’s 300 M rating for mixed-gas diving. Though it has a conventional structure with a screw-back case and one-way rotating bezel, it has a unique retrofuturistic style that sets it apart from more traditional diving watches. It comes with a urethane band and extender so the watch can be worn over wetsuit sleeves.
Seiko Prospex SNE441P1
Classic Dive Design with Silicone Strap
The 43.5mm-wide Seiko Prospex SNE441P1 has a classic design with a one-way rotating bezel, screw-down crown and case back, date display, and LumiBrite glowing hands and markers. The black coated stainless steel case and black silicone band give this diving watch a contemporary style. This solar diver can go 10 months on its power reserve after a full charge.