The Seiko Solar: Seiko's Sun Worshiper
Since 1977, Seiko has been producing solar watches and continuously updating their technology. Top models feature GPS, a perpetual calendar, and power reserves of up to a year, and can store enough power for a day in just two minutes of charging.
Harnessing the Power of Light
The Seiko catalog has featured solar-powered watches since 1977. The traditional Japanese manufacturer had developed the world's first quartz timepiece just a few years prior, and has been pursuing alternative power concepts ever since, in efforts to move away from battery-dependent movements. Solar-powered watches use solar cells to convert solar energy into electricity. Seiko's ultra-modern solar calibers only need a few minutes of exposure to a light source to store up enough energy for a whole day. If the watch is fully-charged, it can run for up to twelve months without light.
Seiko initially dedicated a separate collection to its solar-powered timepieces. Most of these were three-hand models with analog displays, in a wide variety of styles ranging from classic to sporty. Today, you'll find Seiko's solar calibers primarily in their Prospex collection, which features chronographs and professional diving watches. The Premier collection, by contrast, offers a selection of solar-powered dress watches.
In 2012, Seiko revealed the next stage in the evolution of solar movements: the GPS Solar caliber. This watch is reserved for the manufacturer's Astron line and is especially precise, thanks to its built-in GPS receiver.
Reasons to Buy a Seiko Solar
- Precise quartz movement without the need to change the battery
- Charges from any light source
- Power reserve of up to 12 months
- Dress watches, diving watches, and chronographs available
- Astron GPS Solar with GPS receiver for extreme precision
Prices at a Glance: Seiko Solar Watches
|Model, reference number||Price (approx.)||Size, features|
|Astron GPS Solar Titanium, SSH097J1||2,800 USD||42.8 mm, perpetual calendar, GMT, GPS receiver|
|Astron GPS Solar, SSH005J1||1,550 USD||39 mm, perpetual calendar, GPS receiver|
|Solar World Time Radio, SAGA309||845 USD||41.4 mm, perpetual calendar, GMT, radio receiver|
|Prospex Solar Chronograph Diver’s 140th Anniversary, SSC807J1||720 USD||44.5 mm, chronograph, date|
|Prospex Speedtimer Solar, SSC817P1||600 USD||39 mm, chronograph, date|
|Prospex Solar Diver’s, SNE571P1||500 USD||38.5 mm, date|
|Prospex Solar Tuna, SNE577P1||430 USD||46.7 mm, date|
|Solar Chronograph, SSC771P1||360 USD||41.4 mm, chronograph, date|
|Solar, SUP854P1||300 USD||38 mm, two-hand watch|
|Solar, SNE527P1||205 USD||40 mm, day-date display|
|Solar, SNE039P1||135 USD||37 mm, day-date display|
How much do models from the Seiko Solar collection cost?
You can buy a Seiko Solar with three hands on Chrono24 for about 175 USD. The price point for chronographs sits at around 350 USD. If you'd prefer a solar-powered diving watch, watches in the Prospex line cost between 360 and 620 USD. Prospex chronographs change hands for between 620 and 720 USD.
Prices for watches in the Astron GPS line are significantly higher. A three-hand timepiece from the current collection will set you back approximately 1,540 USD, while GPS Solar chronographs demand an investment of between 1,850 and 2,780 USD.
Overview of the Seiko Solar Collection
Until a few years ago, Seiko dedicated a separate collection to its watches with solar calibers. The majority of the timepieces are three-hand models in a wide variety of styles.
Sporty Seiko Solar Watches
If you prefer a watch with a sportier design, be sure to check out the Seiko Solar SNE039P1, SNE391P1, and SNE485P1. The first reference is the smallest of the three, measuring just 37 mm in diameter – the perfect size for a unisex model. The other two references measure an additional 5 mm across, and offer more water resistance (100 m, 10 bar, 328 ft). The SNE039P1 is only water-resistant to 30 m (3 bar, 98 ft) and thus only protected from the occasional splash.
All three watches share a few common characteristics. For example, they are all made of stainless steel and come on a link bracelet. All three models are highly legibile, with applied bar indices and slim hands dominating their dials. The hour markers and hands also feature Seiko's proprietary lume, LumiBrite. Depending on the edition, the watches have a date or day/date display at 3 o'clock.
You can buy the SNE039P1 on Chrono24 for as little as 135 USD. A SNE391P1 will cost you about 180 USD, while the price point for a SNE485P1 sits at approximately 225 USD.
Dress Watches for Men and Women
The Seiko Solar collection includes a multitude of classic dress watches perfectly suited to suits and evening wear. The Seiko Solar SUP873P1 and its sibling model, the SUP878P1, are primarily regarded as men's models. Both have a large, 38-mm stainless steel case and leather strap. While the surfaces of the former are alternately brushed and polished, the case of the SUP878P1 is gold-plated.
The dial designs are also different. The dial on the SUP873P1 is white, and features applied line indices as well as slender dauphine hour and minute hands to indicate the time. The watch does not have a seconds hand. The SUP878P1 features a silver sunburst dial with printed Roman numerals and a railroad minute track. Again, Seiko dispenses with a seconds hand.
Both watches change hands on Chrono24 for around 135 USD.
Women will get more than their money's worth with the reference SUP427P1. This model was designed with the famous Cartier Tank in mind: rectangular case, Roman numerals, dauphine hands. The 25-mm watch comes with a stainless steel case and bracelet, mother-of-pearl dial, and a bezel set with sparkling crystals. This timepiece will set you back about 225 USD.
If you'd prefer a watch with a round case, reach for the Seiko Solar SUP431P1. It is identical to its rectangular sibling model, except for its shape and 30-mm diameter. Plan to spend approximately 300 USD on this watch.
The Seiko Solar Chronograph
The Seiko Solar collection also offers a line of chronographs, which, thanks to their precise quartz movements, can stop with a very high level of precision. The 43-mm Seiko Solar Chronograph Alarm (SSC141P1), for example, stops in increments of a fifth of a second, and can time up to 60 minutes. The alarm function at 6 o'clock can also be used to indicate the time in a second time zone, which is especially useful when traveling. Motorsport enthusiasts will enjoy the watch's tachymeter scale, since you can use it to determine a vehicle's speed. The Solar Chronograph Alarm in stainless steel with a blue dial costs around 280 USD in new condition.
Another representative of the Seiko Solar chronograph line is the reference SSC771P1. This watch can measure increments of one-twentieth of a second. For this, the watch utilizes a subdial at 12 o'clock, from which you can track fractions of a second using the subdial's twenty markers. The watch is also capable of timing intervals. This 41.4-mm stainless steel timepiece will set you back approximately 360 USD.
The Seiko Astron: Revolutionary GPS Technology
Seiko launched the world's first quartz wristwatch in 1969, and called it the Astron – a name that has become a kind of shorthand for the manufacturer's visionary innovations. The Astron GPS Solar was the world's first solar watch with GPS at its introduction in 2012. Using GPS satellite signals, the watch sets itself to the current local time automatically at regular intervals. You can also change the time zone manually with the push of a button. The receiver is a small ring antenna under the bezel. Since the best reception for GPS signals is outside, it's all the more reason to power this model with solar energy. This means you can charge your Astron GPS Solar and update the time simultaneously.
One highly-coveted variant is the Seiko Astron GPS Solar World Time Novak Djokovic Limited Edition SSE105 presented at Baselworld 2016. This limited run of 3,500 luxury watches is dedicated to world-renowned tennis player Novak Djokovic. The timepiece has a titanium case with rose gold plating, and the case back is engraved with Djokovic's signature. The black ceramic bezel coordinates perfectly with the black crocodile leather strap. With its specially-selected shimmering blue mother-of-pearl dial, this world time watch with a perpetual calendar is a real showstopper. New models cost around 2,100 USD.
The reference SSH051J1 has a somewhat simpler design with its stainless steel case and anthracite sunburst dial. The caliber 5X53 provides this model with a GMT function, power reserve indicator, and perpetual calendar. It's also capable of automatically distinguishing between standard and daylight savings time. Plan to spend about 1,850 USD on this edition.
The GPS Solar With Three Hands
In watches like the reference SSJ005J1, Seiko manages to combine the benefits of GPS solar calibers with the classic look of a three-hand watch. This 39-mm stainless steel timepiece is equipped with the precise GPS solar caliber 3X22. The movement features a perpetual calendar, an energy-saving function, and automatic hand position adjustments. You'll have to do without a second time zone, but the dial is much tidier.
Prices for a three-hand GPS Solar start around 1,550 USD. Variants with black or gold-plated cases usually cost a few hundred dollars more. The same applies to titanium versions.
The Seiko Prospex With Solar Movements
You'll find the largest selection of solar-powered Seiko watches in the Prospex collection. The line is primarily known for its professional diving watches such as the “Tuna”. You can also purchase this watch as a 47-mm Solar Tuna under the reference number SNE577P1 at the comparatively low price of just over 410 USD. Women may want to opt for the ref. SUT403P1, which measure 39 mm in diameter and costs approximately 360 USD.
Plan to shell out about the same for the SNJ025P1 “Arnie.” This timepiece is closely related to the Tuna and takes its nickname from Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wore the watch in the action films “Commando” and “Predator.” In contrast to the Tuna, the Arnie has both an analog and a digital display, and comes with a chronograph function operated with a push-piece on the left-hand side of the case.
If you'd prefer a diving watch with a more traditional design, take a closer look at the watches in Seiko's SNE series. These timepieces measure 39 mm across and 10 mm high, and are thus very wearable. Optically, they strongly resemble classic diving watches. Seiko's SNE models are water-resistant to 200 m (20 bar, 656 ft) and come with dials in black, blue, green, brown, or anthracite, both with and without a sunburst finish. You can also choose between a stainless steel link bracelet or rubber strap. Depending on the edition, plan to spend between 430 and 515 USD.
Solar-Powered Prospex Chronographs
Looking for a diving watch with a chronograph function? If so, you might find your dream watch in the Prospex Solar Chronograph Diver’s line. These stainless steel timepieces are water-resistant to 200 m (20 bar, 656 ft) and feature a unidirectional diving bezel. The stainless steel bracelet is equipped with a deployant clasp as well as an additional security pusher, guaranteeing the perfect fit. Alternatively, the watch also comes on a rubber strap with a pin buckle.
The dial comes in black, blue, or green and is very legible, despite having subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock. The watch also boasts LumiBrite on its indices and hands, making the dial legible even in low light. Standard Solar Chronograph Diver’s models change hands for around 620 USD. A special and limited edition like the PADI (SSC795J1) or the 140th Seiko anniversary ref. SSC807J1 released in 2021 will set you back about 100 USD more.
The Solar Prospex Speedtimer for Motorsports Fans
Seiko expanded its Prospex collection in late 2021 to accommodate a line of solar-powered chronographs inspired by the Seiko Speedtimer from the 1960s. The stainless steel case has a diameter of 39 mm and is water-resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft). The Speedtimer Solar features a fixed tachymeter bezel, letting you know right away that it's a racing chronograph.
The watch offers a selection of dials in black, beige, blue, or white. The subdials, however, are black, and laid out in the typical tricompax arrangement at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock. The date display is located at 4:30.
The Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Solar changes hands for between 565 and 690 USD, depending on the color variant.