10 Apr Best Solar Powered Dive Watches
Are you looking for the best solar dive watch around? Well, it’s actually a tougher mission than you might have thought! Not only have I scoured the internet for the best solar dive watches, I’ve actually physically handled and used every watch on the list! I’ll give further details, but let’s get right to it.
Best Solar Dive Watch Overall: Seiko Solar Tuna
Best Budget Solar Dive Watch: Citizen Promaster BN0150-28E
Best Solar Dive Watch Under $300: Citizen Titanium Promaster BN0200-56E
As someone who prefers a good quartz watch over an automatic any day of the week, I have spent countless hours over the last few years looking for not just the best quartz divers, but solar powered dive watches specifically. I wanted to find a solar diver that had the traditional dive watch look, preferably on a bracelet, that could actually do more than just go to the beach.
If you’ve been looking around, by now you may have realized that there are not a lot of choices. I found the same thing, but that didn’t stop me from my mission to find the ultimate solar dive watches. I set out to not just find them, but to actually strap them to my wrist and put them to the test.
My guidelines were simple: I wanted a screw down crown, legitimate 200m of water resistance and a bracelet. I’ll be honest, I did not find a lot of variety. When it comes to solar watches in general, there are really only a few players, Casio, Seiko and Citizen. As you will find on my list of solar divers, it’s slim pickings beyond those manufacturers.
The following is a list of watches tested by me. I have owned or currently own every watch below and all my opinions are from first hand experience. While there are several solar divers beyond this list from Seiko and Citizen, I am just sticking to the ones I have owned or handled.
Citizen Eco Drive Promaster BN0150-28E
Probably the most well known and best value of all solar divers. This Citizen is a good looking watch that can handle the deep stuff. Years ago, Citizen actually offered it on a bracelet, but you will only find those on eBay now. It’s a solid watch that will never let you down. Basic and sturdy at a great value.
The rotating bezel is smooth and firm with solid stops at each click. Not only is this a great solar diver, it’s a great watch period. It often makes the list for best EDC watch and best watch under $200. A tip when purchasing this one, for some reason it’s always on sale for Black Friday.
That’s how I got mine for an absolute steal of $155. This past Black Friday, Amazon had the blue dial version for $147. Beware, the price dose fluctuate, use the link below to check it out.
Citizen Titanium Promaster BN0200-56E
My favorite watch on the list, hands down, and one I wear often. This guy is a real diver with 200m of water resistance, a screw down crown and case back and comes on either a rubber strap or bracelet. I should mention that Citizen lume is stellar in most cases, and it certainly is here on these Promaster. What sets this watch apart is the Titanium case and bracelet.
It has a cool gray look to it and you’ll forget you’re wearing it. This is the watch, in fact, that started me on my journey of finding the best solar diver. Not only is it wicked cool with the titanium, but the seconds hand lines up with the dial markings almost perfectly….a tough feat for any quartz watch.
What also makes this one of the best is that it has no recoil of the seconds hand when ticking. You may have noticed on some quartz watches, the seconds hand will bounce back slightly on each tick, but not with the Promaster.
This Promaster also is available on a rubber strap and matching titanium bracelet and it’s the version I recommend you buy. Even if you’re not a bracelet guy, the few extra dollars is worth it.
I have the bracelet for mine and have gone back to wearing it on the metal almost exclusively. With solid end links and lots of micro adjustments, it’s too good to pass up.
Citizen Promaster BN0190-82E
This watch is a guilty pleasure. I had seen this on Amazon forever, but the stock pictures made it look big, bulky and, how shall I say….a little gaudy. However, in person, it’s such a beautiful watch! If you want a nice, dressy, sports watch, something that can do it all and still perform when the chips are down, then this guy is a good choice.
Pictures just don’t do this watch justice. It’s a little hard to photograph with the black sunburst dial, but the watch has some amazing details: from a slanted chapter ring, dial markings, handset and more. The stock bracelet isn’t too shabby either – a little bit of a pain to adjust, but does have solid end links and micro-adjustments.
It quickly has become one of my ‘grab and go’ watches. Like most Citizen divers, the lume is excellent. If you like big divers like a Seiko Marine Master, then you will really love this watch.
Seiko Padi Chronograph Diver SSC663P1
No list of solar divers would be complete without the PADI Chronograph. Available in a few color variations, this is a chunky beast that looks equally handsome on a strap, nato and the factory bracelet. Boasting a real screw down crown, the Padi Chron Diver is ready for the big leagues.
I am not a fan of the cyclops and wish there was a flat glass version, but that’s obviously subjective. Strapecode makes a super sweet aftermarket bracelet with screw pins and solid end links, it’s a worthwhile investment for sure!
Seiko Prospex SNE437P1
Now, this is a watch I wish I had never sold. I don’t know what I was thinking when I listed it on eBay. Ultimately, it came down that I just didn’t like the cyclops on it. It has the same dimensions and feel as the Seiko PADI above, but without the chronograph function. Another beast of a watch, this guy is even better in person. It sits a tad tall on the wrist, but overall it has excellent proportions.
Some of the highlights of this beauty are the lume drops set upon some metal discs, it really gives the watch face depth and a rich look. I also love how the bezel is similar to a Seiko Sumo with its big numerals.
Seiko Solar Tuna SNE498
There are a few Solar Tuna’s out there, but the one I own is this cool, gold-highlight, monster of a watch. Lume for days and a super solid movement (probably the best on the list), the Solar Tuna checks all the boxes sans a bracelet option. This is a useful watch to have around and it serves double duty for me as a field style watch when I go camping and fishing.
This Tuna comes with a very nice rubber strap with matching, gold-colored hardware. I rarely keep the stock strap on any watch and prefer a nato most of the time, but the stock strap is great on this one. Of all the watches on this list, this guy is built like a tank.
Forget your Luminox or G-Shock, this watch is what you want. The dial is super easy to read, fantastic lume and the plastic shroud around the case ensures you can knock it around without worry.
A Seiko Tuna is an acquired taste, a definite love it or hate it watch. I promise, spend a little time with the Golden Tuna and you’ll be a believer from here on out.
Seiko Solar SNE107P2
I am putting this solar dive watch on the list even though it’s out of production, and that’s because you can still readily snag them on eBay and some message boards.
If you like a slightly more compact watch, this is for you. With 20mm lugs and a 13 mm height, the watch wears compact and awesome. The rotating bezel is a little more unique on this one with its knurling and milled grips. Overall, it’s a clean and useful setup and looks good on a rubber strap or a nato.
Seiko SBDN013 Titanium Prospex
Another watch I wish I still owned. It’s tough to always find detailed specs on Seiko watches, as they don’t list out a lot of info on their website or sales brochures. I think this has the better quartz movement inside similar to the Tuna, but I am not 100% sure. Seiko does their titanium watches exceptionally well.
The fit and finish on this is amazing for the price. The bracelet could be a tad better, but only someone really picky (like me?) would complain. For the money, I wish it had a milled clasp instead of the stamped metal.
That, however, is where my gripes stop; this watch is basically perfect. Great lume, awesome looks, a sweet-looking titanium bezel and a stated 10 month power supply. Originally, this was a JDM model and hard to come by, but now you can find them on Amazon and other spots.
If you have been looking for a titanium diver, then it’s an epic battle between this one and the Citizen Titanium Promaster.
These watches don’t meet the official criteria as a true dive watch, but they are definitely worth mentioning here. If you just want something that has a dive watch look, but is still reliable and well-built, then consider the following watches.
It was a tough decision to put this Casio on the list. It’s a good looking watch, and at $100 it makes a great option. Besides the water resistance not being 200m, the watch does have one terrible flaw….the bezel is fake.
It doesn’t rotate, which is a real disappointment. However, if you are just looking for a dive-style watch and don’t need the bezel function, this Casio makes a compelling choice. It seems odd the bezel doesn’t actually rotate because this watch has OK lume and a screw down caseback.
If you need a watch that is a great all-rounder, this is an option. It’s got enough water resistance for swimming and fun at the beach.
Seiko Men’s SNE283
This is one of those Seikos that shows up on eBay and Amazon once in a while. Originally, I think it was a JDM release in 2016, but it’s now making its way to other spots for sale. The SNE283 is a solid, all-around dive watch. It only comes on a rubber strap, but it does have a screw down crown and caseback, giving it a genuine 200 meter of water resistance.
It’s in the honourable mention category because the bezel is a little too soft in its clicks and has a tad of play in it. Otherwise, the watch is really nice and a real value contender coming in under $200
Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Watches
How long will the full charge last on my Solar Watch?
A solar dive watch charge will usually last 8 – 10 months. However, every watch and battery is different.
Are Solar Dive Watches Reliable?
Solar divers can be very reliable. The reliability of any watch has more to do with its overall construction and quality of materials. A well constructed solar diver is just as reliable as any other well made watch.
Do solar dive watches need servicing?
That’s one great benefit of a solar watch, the servicing needs are very low. Unless you damage it, your watch should give you many years of trouble free use. Typically the only item that needs servicing on a solar dive watch is the battery.
How much is a solar watch battery?
Depending on the model of battery and type used, a solar watch battery can be as cheap as $10. However, some are more complicated to replace and a watch repair shop may charge anywhere from 1 – 2 hours of labor plus parts.
Are solar watches better than automatic watches?
This is a common question, but not a fair comparison. It’s more of an apples to oranges question. Since inherently the watches function differently, one really can’t claim to be better.
Do solar watches charge on cloudy days?
Yes, your solar dive watch can be charged on a cloudy day, it just may take much longer. Inside most solar watches is a capacitor that converts light into energy. These are designed to work in a variety of light conditions, including cloudy days.
How do I keep my Solar Watch charged?
A solar watch will charge in as little as 1 minute of direct sunlight, which is enough for one day of use. Every manufacturer of solar watches has a different recommendation based on the solar cells in the watch. On average, it takes 8 – 10 hours direct sunlight to reach a full charge for a Seiko or Citizen watch.
Do solar powered dive watches last forever?
A solar diver will not last forever, or rather the battery inside will not last forever. All solar divers have a battery where the energy is stored. Over time and with multiple charges, these internal batteries wear out. Some watches have a replaceable battery while some solar dive watch batteries are too cost prohibitive to replace.
Can a solar watch battery be replaced?
Yes, many solar dive watches have a replaceable battery. This is something you will want to check out before you purchase your watch. Many solar watches use a capacitor to change artificial and natural light into power, these can also wear out over time.
Are solar watches better than a battery watch?
Yes, a solar watch is better than a traditional battery powered watch because it has a longer service life. A typical quartz watch will need its battery replaced every 3 – 5 years while a solar dive watch battery can last over 10 years and sometimes longer.
Can an LED light charge solar watch?
Yes, an LED light source can charge a solar watch, but depending on the watts and distance from the light source, it may take much longer to charge compared to sunlight or an incandescent light.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.