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 display 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 kind 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 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-compliant water-resistance rating of 200-meters (or 20ATM). The ISO-certification is commonly indicated on the watch face with a “Diver’s” label before the water-resistance rating (e.g. “Diver’s 200m”).
Seiko Prospex SNE441
Classic Dive Design with Silicone Strap
The 43.5mm-wide Seiko Prospex SNE441 has a classic diving design with a silicone band, one-way rotating bezel, screw-down crown and case back, date display, and LumiBrite glowing hands and markers. This solar diver can go 10 months on its power reserve after a full charge.
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 has a PADI logo on the face.
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.
Seiko Prospex SSC031
A Solar Chronograph Diver
The Seiko Prospex SSC031 is a solar chronograph diver with three subdials. The chronograph measures up to 60 minutes in 1/5 second increments with a split time function. Another subdial serves as a 24-hour indicator. It also has a date display, one-way rotating bezel, LumiBrite hands and markers, and a polyurethane band. This solar-powered watch can go up to six months on a full charge.
Seiko Prospex SNE107
Contemporary Solar-Powered Dive Watch with Stainless Steel Band
The 42mm-wide Seiko Prospex SNE107 features a more contemporary design for a dive watch but it has the usual features like a one-way rotating bezel, LumiBrite hands and markers, date display (and also day of week). It is similar to the SNE441 and SNE435 with a screw-down case back and up to 10 months of power on a full charge.
Seiko Prospex SNE107P2
Contemporary Solar-Powered Dive Watch with Urethane Band
The Seiko Prospex SNE107P2 is a more casual and affordable version of the SNE107 featuring a black urethane band.
Casio G-Shock Frogman GWF-D1000B-1
Advanced Solar Digital Dive Watch with Sensors
The Casio G-Shock Frogman GWF-D1000B-1 is the latest generation of G-Shock’s flagship diving watch. The Frogman is the top all-digital G-Shock and combines Casio’s Tough Solar technology with G-Shock’s legendary toughness. It is the only G-Shock series with ISO-compliant water-resistance and one of the only G-Shock models with a stainless steel inner case housing the module. New features in the GWF-D1000B-1 include a water depth meter, compass, and thermometer, all of which work underwater and can be used with the time stamp memory function. Other high-end features that are new to this generation include a sapphire crystal and a carbon fiber insert band. The Frogman also has tide and moon age data and the Multi-Band 6 feature, which will adjust the time automatically through the reception of radio waves. The 53.3mm-wide GWF-D1000B-1 is a large watch and is designed to be worn over wetsuits.
Casio G-Shock Frogman GWF-1000-1
Solar-Powered Digital Dive Watch with Legendary Toughness
Though now overshadowed by the GWF-D1000, the previous generation G-Shock Frogman GWF-1000 is no slouch and is still a current model being produced in Japan. The ISO-compliant GWF-1000 was actually submersed to 1000 meters in a real world test and it survived with no damage. The 52.8mm-wide GWF-1000 doesn’t have the environmental sensors of the GWF-D1000, but it does have a tide and moon graph, a dive time and surface interval measurement function, and Multi-Band 6 timekeeping.