How does solar watch work? (Read Before You Buy)

By Matthew Joseph Nandirio •  Updated: 10/11/21 •  8 min read

A solar watch is becoming a trend because of its many benefits. From reliability to sustainability, a solar watch is one of the technological advancements that has changed the course of human living. You may wonder how? Using a solar watch reduces the number of biodegradable batteries and thus a safer and greener environment. But that’s a story for another day. This article aims to provide detailed information about how a solar watch works—knowing how a solar watch works will help you make better decisions in buying and maintaining a solar watch to last a lifetime. 

So let’s jump right in and see how exactly a solar watch works because you will agree that a solar watch works differently from a Quartz watch. Otherwise, there will be no difference between the two. 

How does solar watch technology work?

A solar watch is also called a photoelectric watch, and in simple terms, a solar watch is powered by solar energy. But let’s dig deeper beyond the simple definition to unravel the science behind a solar watch. A solar watch comprises solar cells that are stored underneath the surface of the watch dial. When solar light enters a solar watch dial, it hits the solar cells underneath and triggers an electric current. The electric current, in turn, charges the solar watch battery. That’s how ridiculously easy a solar watch works.

We can say that solar watch technology works by converting light energy into electronic energy in a single sentence. However, it is important that I say this. The battery in a solar watch differs greatly from the batteries in a Quartz watch. The battery in a solar watch is an eco-friendly rechargeable battery that can be used for a long time by discharging and charging. 

A button battery or a dry battery used in a Quartz watch is not the same as a rechargeable, eco-friendly battery used in a solar watch. And the two cannot be used interchangeably. A dry battery cannot be charged by the electric current generated from solar energy. Only a rechargeable, eco-friendly battery can.

A solar watch technology requires a sufficient amount of sunlight and time to charge sufficiently. In the absence of these two, a solar watch will have insufficient recharging and thus lower battery energy. So the trick is to give a solar watch plenty of sunlight and time to charge. 

Do solar watch have batteries?

As earlier mentioned, a solar watch uses a battery to function, but not the typical dry or button battery in Quartz watches. A solar watch uses a rechargeable, eco-friendly battery that can dispel and store energy for a long time. The solar watch batteries are often in the form of a lithium-ion cell that can be recharged a thousand times before needing replacement.

A solar watch battery is strong and durable. A single solar watch battery full charge can last months. And the best part is that a solar watch battery can be used for you for 15 years if properly maintained. The downside is that a solar watch battery will begin to suffer degradation and corrosion over time. Regardless, a solar watch battery has proven highly effective and efficient compared to Quartz watch batteries. 

Do solar watch powered batteries work at night?

Contrary to popular beliefs that a solar watch battery can only be powered by solar energy, any artificial light can power up a solar watch battery. The solar cells in a solar watch can slowly fill up under a bright artificial light with enough intensity. So, if such a light is available at night, it can power up your solar watch battery. Although, the charging speed will be lesser compared to the charging speed where there’s active sunlight.

Nevertheless, make sure to consult with the solar watch Manufacturer’s guide to have an idea about the lightning conditions needed for sufficient charging. While some solar watch models will charge sufficiently under artificial light, others will not. So it’s necessary you go through the Manufacturer’s guide and understand how a particular solar watch model works.

Are solar watches reliable?

Sometimes, solar watches are also called solar quartz watches. Why? Solar watches operate the same way as quartz watches concerning other features. There’s a vibrating quartz crystal in a solar watch as there is in a Quartz watch. The vibrating quartz crystal ensures a beat rate of one tick per second and accurate timekeeping. So it makes sense to call a solar watch a solar quartz watch.

So back to the question, if solar watches are reliable more than you think. First, a solar watch is Manufactured by the most trusted watch Manufacturers. Think of it this way. It’s pretty easy for anyone to manufacture a quartz watch and sell it to the public. And that’s why there are tons of unknown brands releasing quartz watches daily. But it is not the same with producing a solar watch. Due to the special eco-drive technology Involve in manufacturing a solar watch, watch manufacturers think twice before venturing into the production of solar watches. So when you buy a solar watch, you can be sure of its quality.

Also, because there’s constant charging in a solar watch, there are reduced risks of a change or drop-in time, which is common when replacing batteries in a quartz watch. Since a solar watch battery can last up to 10 years, it means accurate timekeeping for 10 years. This is something you will rarely see in a quartz watch. Without mincing words, a solar watch is more reliable than you can imagine. Above all, they are effective. Below is a compiled list of the features of a solar watch.

The features of a solar watch

Depending on the model and the Manufacturer, solar watch features vary with one another. Some solar watch has multiple time zone displays and even a stopwatch, while others do not. However, this section will focus on the necessary and standard features of a solar watch. These are features a solar watch contains irrespective of its cost, model, or Manufacturer. 

Dial: The dial is the displaying portion of a solar watch. Sometimes, it is called the face. Solar watches have different dial colors and shapes. It buzzes down to your preferences and personality. However, it’s great to go for solar watches with bold dials, so it’s easy for you to read the time. You can also consider light-colored dials if you are battling eye problems. You will find varieties of solar watches with beautiful faces out there. Make sure to find the best one for you.

Note: Sometimes, there’s a subdial inside the main dial responsible for giving details that are not provided by the main dial. The details include seconds reading and dates reading. 

Crystal: There’s a transparent covering on the face of a solar watch called the Crystal. The Crystal protects the solar watch dial from water and dirt. The majority of the solar watch has a crystal regardless of its brands. But the Crystal quality varies with the quality of the solar watch. Stay away from low-quality crystals as they would increase the risk of your Solar watch having a glare. 

Hand: A solar watch and a quartz watch have a hand feature that indicates time on the dial. The hand feature comes in at least 3 parts, the hour hand, the minute hand, and the second hand. 

Case: A solar watch has a case that houses its dial and movement. The protective case safeguards the elements against wear and tear. Like the dial, there are varying case sizes and shapes in a solar watch. There’s an attachment to the case that controls other functions like date adjustment or chronograph. The attachment is called a pusher. But that’s not all. Some luxury solar watches have a barometer, a thermometer, and a chronograph to increase their functionality. 

How do you know when a solar watch battery is full?

Often, solar watches have an indicator that tells you their charge level. This functionality will help you know when the charge level of a solar watch is low or high. In some models, the charge level indicator is a part of the solar watch display, and in others, it could be associated with the second hand. To identify the battery level indicator in your solar watch, consult with the Manufacturer’s manual because the location of the charge level indicator may vary with the model.


If the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable. We don’t want you going about abusing your investment; a solar watch, instead of enjoying all the benefits it has to offer. We hope this article has given you a better understanding of how a solar watch works and the answers to possible questions troubling you. In this age, technology is an investment, so consider a solar watch a good investment. Don’t fret, you don’t have to break the bank to get a good solar watch. There are many quality solar watches at an affordable price.

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Matthew Joseph Nandirio

Matthew Joseph Nandirio is the Founder of walkingsolar. After graduating from the University of Houston in 2002, matt started working as an electrical and electronic engineer for several multi-national solar energy companies. He has a wide range of experiences including solar system requirement analysis, planning, maintaining, debugging and even solar device development through research. He now shares his 20 years of expertise through his articles on the walkingsolar website. Further, he is also the author of two books on Solar Technology, “Solar Power for Villages” and “DIY Solar System for Dummies”.