How Long Do Solar Watches Last?


Solar watches can last a long time, some even for decades if you take good care of them. In this article, we will discuss the average lifespan of solar watches, what can make them last longer, and how to keep yours running for a long time.

So, without further ado, let’s jump right in.

What Is the Typical Lifespan of a Solar Watch?

High-quality solar watches often run smoothly for about 15 to 25 years before you’ll need to change the battery or get a big repair done. If you take good care of a watch from a trusted brand like Citizen, Seiko, Casio, or Rolex, it can run well for up to 30 years or more.

On the other hand, cheaper solar watches might last just 5 to 15 years before they start to wear out or need a new solar-powered watch battery. The reason for the different lifespans is the quality of the parts inside the watch and how good the solar power charging system is.

Once fully charged under direct sunlight or bright indoor light, most solar watches can keep the correct time for 6 to 12 months without needing more light. This is because of a built-in battery or capacitor that stores energy from the watch’s solar cells.

How Long Do Specific Brands of Solar Watches Last?

Solar watches of different brands

The overall lifespan often comes down to the specific brand and model of solar watch. Here are typical lifespans for some popular high-end solar watch brands:

  • Seiko Solar Watches: High-quality Seiko solar-powered watches guaranteed to last 15-25+ years. Known for advanced Japanese precision engineering, a Seiko solar watch battery can offer significant durability, making these watches a reliable choice.
  • Citizen Eco-Drive Chandler: Known for its high-precision Japanese quartz solar movements, this watch can function for more than 25 years with regular maintenance.
  • Casio G-Shock Solar Atomic: Built for resilience, this watch lasts 15 to 20 years and is designed to endure tough conditions.
  • Timex Expedition Solar: Offers a lifespan of 10-15 years, but its durability falls short compared to brands like Seiko and Citizen.
  • Rolex Solar Submariner: With premium Swiss solar technology, this watch is engineered to last over 50 years and requires servicing every 7-10 years.

What Factors Affect the Lifespan of a Solar Watch?

There are several key variables that impact the operation life of a solar-powered watch:

Solar Cell Quality

Low-quality solar cells found in cheap watches are not as efficient at converting sunlight to power. This makes the battery lose its ability to hold a charge faster, often in 5-10 years.

Top-grade, high-density solar cells used in expensive watches are efficient and can last over 20 years without issues.

Use of Power-Draining Features

High-tech features like GPS, Bluetooth, LED backlights, and heart rate monitors make your watch’s battery deplete faster.

Basic solar watches without these extras usually have a longer battery life. To keep your battery going for longer, limit the use of these advanced features.

Environmental Exposure

Exposing the solar watch to extreme temperatures, moisture, chemicals, or shocks can accelerate the wear and tear of internal components and seals over time.

Taking care to avoid harsh environments when possible extends the watch’s durability.

Frequency of Recharging Cycles

Allowing the rechargeable solar battery to drain and then fully recharge over and over completely can degrade the battery more rapidly.

Regular partial recharging through consistent light exposure is optimal for longevity.

Quality of Craftsmanship

Solar watches from top-tier Japanese and Swiss brands feature components crafted with exceptional precision.

This attention to detail not only ensures accurate timekeeping but also contributes to the watch’s durability, often extending its lifespan over decades.

Care and Preventative Maintenance

Taking the time to properly maintain your solar watch with regular cleaning, battery recharging, gasket replacements, and professional servicing every 5-10 years helps maximize lifespan.

Tips to Extend the Lifespan of Your Solar Watch

Man wearing a solar watch

Here are some helpful maintenance tips to keep your solar timepiece running flawlessly for 15-30+ years:

  • Store the watch in a cool, dry area free of moisture and dust when not being worn. Avoid attics or basements.
  • Avoid pressing buttons underwater to prevent water from entering crevices and inner workings.
  • Use high-quality silicone gaskets if your watch lacks adequate native water resistance. This further seals components from moisture and particle ingress.
  • Avoid exposing the watch to soaps, perfumes, solvents, chemicals, and insect repellents, which can degrade seals over time.
  • Recharge the battery regularly by placing it near a sunny window or bright LED light to avoid repeated full drainage cycles.
  • Get your solar watch checked by a pro every 5 to 7 years. They can swap out parts like gaskets and bands, and make sure it’s still good at keeping water out.
  • If you see parts like seals, bands, or the protective cover getting old, change them out early. Doing this can help your watch last longer.
  • Don’t keep your watch in a dark place for more than 6 months. Give it some light now and then to keep the battery from running out.
  • If you’re in a spot with not much sun, think about using extrasolar chargers or watch winders. These can help keep your watch’s battery full.

How to Know When Your Solar Watch Needs a Battery Replacement

After 15-20 years of regular use, solar watch batteries will begin to show signs of decreased efficiency. Here are signs indicating it may need professional battery replacement:

  • Greatly reduced running time and power reserve, even after full recharging
  • Faster than normal draining of power – going dead within weeks or months
  • Display problems like fading, flickering, or discolouration
  • Inability to hold a lasting charge – needing very frequent recharging
  • Loss of timekeeping accuracy and precision
  • Evidence of moisture intrusions like fogging or oxidation

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Solar Watch Battery?

Watchmaker replacing watch battery

The cost to replace a solar-powered watch battery varies, but expect to pay around $50-150 USD on average depending on the brand and complexity. More expensive Swiss and Japanese solar watch brands will cost you more than some cheaper brands.

We recommend that you look for professional authorized dealers of brands like Seiko, Citizen, or Casio for reliable solar battery replacements. Generic third-party batteries may be cheaper but won’t last nearly as long as OEM ones.

It’s wise to compare quotes for solar battery replacement from a few highly reviewed local watch repair shops. Ensure they use brand-name batteries and components.

Can Solar Watch Batteries Be Replaced at Home by Owners?

Replacing solar batteries at home isn’t recommended if you’re not an expert. Solar watches have complex internal mechanisms that need specialized tools and skills.

Going the DIY route could cause irreversible damage to sensitive parts like solar panels, capacitors, and circuit boards. You also risk compromising the watch’s water resistance if you can’t properly reseal it.

For a safe and reliable battery replacement, it’s best to go to authorized professionals. This will keep your watch running smoothly for many more years.

Common Myths and Misconceptions About Solar Watches

There are some common solar watch myths worth debunking:

Myth 1: Solar watches must be recharged under direct sunlight only.

Fact: They can effectively recharge indoors under sufficiently strong artificial light sources.

Myth 2: Solar watches constantly need recharging to maintain operation.

Fact: Most can run flawlessly for 6-12 months between charges thanks to their storage batteries.

Myth 3: Solar watches are delicate and easily broken with rough use.

Fact: Many rugged models like the Casio G-Shock Solar are shock and scratch-resistant for active lifestyles.

Myth 4: Solar watches take hours in direct sun to fully recharge.

Fact: Most only take 1-3 hours in full sun. Partial sun over weeks also charges them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Safe to Expose the Watch to Direct Sunlight for Extended Periods?

Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight is generally safe but can lead to overheating, affecting battery life and internal components.

Are Watches Using Solar Power Eco-Friendly?

Yes, solar watches are far more eco-friendly than traditional battery-powered watches. They produce less waste over time and rely on solar renewable energy.

Is There a Way to Test the Solar Cell Efficiency of My Watch?

Specialized equipment is needed to accurately measure solar cell efficiency, so this is best done by professionals during servicing.

Do All Solar Watches Have the Same Charging Speed?

No, charging speed can vary based on the brand, model, and quality of solar cells used in the watch.

What Are the Signs of Solar Cell Degradation in a Solar Watch?

Reduced charging speed and shorter periods between recharges can be signs of solar cell degradation.

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