Seiko Solar vs Kinetic Watches – Top Rated Timepieces

Aside from automatic watches, there are other automatically recharging types of timepieces. Solar and kinetic watches have different mechanisms that power them, but they both work wonders for the everyday user.

But which of them is better? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each watch type that will help you choose the one better suited to your lifestyle?

What are Solar Watches?

Solar watches have storage capacitors which recharge power through an ambient light source. Although the preferred source is the sun, solar watches can also be recharged with the light coming from bulbs and other artificial light sources. Their greatest advantage is that they don’t need battery replacement.

The first solar watch prototype was invented by Roger Riehl in 1968. It was in 1972 when the fully working ‘Synchronar’ was released to the public. It looked very futuristic for its time, and quite peculiar because the time display is on the side while the solar panels sit on top of the watch. Still, its advanced features gave the watch industry a big leap toward the use of solar power.

This was followed by the development of the Citizen Crystron in 1976 which had an analog display instead of a digital panel.

A solar watch works using a solar cell incorporated under the dial. When the light shines on the dial, the cells absorb the light and convert it to energy, recharging the battery of the watch.

Lux (lx) is the measure of luminosity a light source emits. The higher the lux, the faster a solar watch can recharge. Natural sunlight during the summer produces 100,000lx, while a typical lighted office environment emits only 700lx.

There are solar chargers designed for recharging solar watches. They can produce up to 30,000lx, making them a convenient alternative for those who don’t have a chance to charge their watches under the heat of the sun.

Pros:

  • Recharges with any light source, which means it recharges most of the time (unless you live in a cave)
  • A single charge can last for months
  • You rarely have to replace its batteries

Cons:

  • No method for manual winding to recharge in case battery suddenly runs out of power
  • Can be challenging to recharge if you wear it with a long-sleeved shirt or coat

The Best Solar Watches

Seiko SNE039

The 37mm SNE039 has a stainless steel case and bracelet, a Hardlex crystal, a solid case back, a day-date window, luminescent hands and index hour markers, and a Caliber V158 quartz movement. 

Pros:

  • Durable build
  • Affordable dress watch
  • Uncluttered watch face
  • Power reserve of up to 6 months
  • Water-resistant up to 30m

Cons:

  • Low-quality bracelet
  • Weak lume brightness
  • Tricky to adjust the day-date

Price: $90 to $185

 

Seiko SNE056

The 37mm SNE056 has a stainless steel case, a solid case back, a Hardlex crystal, a yellow gold-tone bezel, a synthetic leather strap, a day-date window, Arabic numeral hour markers, luminescent hands and markers, and a Caliber V158 quartz movement. 

Pros:

  • Classic design
  • Accurate timekeeping
  • Legible watch face
  • Water-resistant up to 30m

Cons:

  • Weak lume brightness
  • Tricky to adjust the day-date
  • Cheap strap quality

Price: $90 to $195

 

Seiko SNE331

The 43mm SNE331 has a stainless steel case, a scratch-resistant mineral crystal, a nylon strap, a day-date window, Arabic numeral and index hour markers, luminescent hands and markers, and a Caliber V158 quartz movement. 

Pros:

  • Legible watch face
  • Durable build best used as a beater watch
  • Power reserve of up to 10 months
  • Water-resistant up to 100m

Cons:

  • Small day-date window
  • Weak lume brightness
  • Band begins to smell after some time

Price: $95 to $205

 

Seiko SSC143

The 44mm SSC143 has a stainless steel case, a solid case back, a scratch-resistant Hardlex crystal, a fixed bezel with black PVD, a stainless steel band, a tachymeter scale on the outer dial, a date window, luminescent hands and index hour markers, and a Caliber V172 Eco-Drive movement. The  three chronograph subdials feature 60-second, 60-minute, and 24-hour scales.

Pros:

  • It has an alarm feature
  • Good lume brightness
  • Chronograph functions work as expected
  • Power reserve of up to 6 months
  • Water-resistant up to 100m

Cons:

  • Difficult to read because of the highly reflective crystal
  • Small date window
  • Alarm sound is almost inaudible

Price: $200 to $425

 

Seiko Excelsior SSC139

The 44mm Excelsior SSC139 has a stainless steel case and bracelet, a scratch-resistant mineral crystal, a date window, luminescent hand and index hour markers, and a Caliber V172 Eco-Drive movement. It has three chronograph subdials featuring 60-second, 60-minute, and 24-hour scales.

Pros:

  • Durable, heavy-duty watch
  • Good lume brightness
  • Power reserve of up to 6 months
  • Water-resistant up to 100m

Cons:

  • Small date window
  • Thin seconds hand
  • Quite heavy on the wrist

Price: $230 to $495

What are Kinetic Watches?

Kinetic watches work somewhat similar to automatic watches: they’re powered by your arm’s swinging motion. The difference is that in an automatic watch, the mainspring is wound, while in a kinetic watch, a storage capacitor is recharged. 

Seiko first unveiled its kinetic watch in 1986. It uses a mechanical weight to drive the motor that recharges the capacitor inside the timepiece. 

Kinetic watches have to be worn regularly to maintain power in the capacitors. So, if you plan to wear a kinetic watch on special occasions only, you might consider going for a solar watch instead.

Watch winders will work on kinetic watches, so it’s best to buy one if you want to keep your watch working and updated.

Pros:

  • A single charge can last up to months
  • Charges with your arm movements
  • Capacitor doesn’t need to be replaced

Cons:

  • No way to manually charge the capacitor
  • Requires you to regularly wear it

 

The Best Kinetic Watches

Seiko Recraft SKA705

The 42mm Recraft SKA705 has a stainless steel case with black ion plating, a solid case back, a scratch-resistant Hardlex crystal, a nylon strap, a date window, minute markers on the outer rim, luminescent hands and index hour markers, and a Caliber 5M82 kinetic quartz movement.

Pros:

  • Legible watch face
  • Good lume brightness
  • Power reserve of up to 6 months
  • Water-resistant up to 100m

Cons:

  • Crystal gets scratched easily
  • It makes a ticking sound
  • Small date window

Price: $100 to $325

 

 

Seiko Cream SKA779

The 40mm Cream SKA779 has a stainless steel case, a scratch-resistant mineral crystal, an exhibition case back, a leather strap, a date window, a cream-colored dial with large Arabic numeral hour markers, luminescent hands, and a Japanese kinetic quartz movement.

Pros:

  • Classic look best used as a dress watch
  • Highly legible watch face
  • Water-resistant up to 100m

Cons:

  • Cheap strap quality
  • Font color of date window mixes with the dial color, making it a bit hard to distinguish
  • Weak lume brightness

Price: $130 to $395

 

Seiko Prospex SKA371

The 45mm Prospex SKA371 has a stainless steel case and band, a solid case back, a scratch-resistant Hardlex crystal, a unidirectional rotating bezel with large Arabic numeral minute markers, a date window, a power reserve indicator, skeleton hands, luminescent hands and dot hour markers, and a Japanese kinetic quartz movement. 

Pros:

  • Heavy-duty build
  • Excellent lume brightness
  • Keeps accurate time
  • Clean watch face is easy to read
  • Water-resistant up to 200m

Cons:

  • Adjusting the links can be challenging
  • Small date window
  • The watch is quite heavy and thick

Price: $210 to $550

 

Seiko Prospex SKA369

The 43mm Prospex SKA369 has a stainless steel case and band, a solid case back, a scratch-resistant Hardlex crystal, a Pepsi-colored, unidirectional rotating bezel with large Arabic numeral minute markers, a screw-down crown, a date window, a power reserve indicator, luminescent skeleton hands and dot hour markers, and a Caliber 5M62 kinetic quartz movement.

Pros:

  • Heavy-duty body and bracelet
  • Keeps time accurately
  • Excellent lume brightness
  • Water-resistant up to 200m

Cons:

  • Bezel gets scratched easily
  • Small date window
  • Thick and heavy to wear

Price: $240 to $525

 

Seiko Padi SUN065 Special Edition

The 47.5mm Padi SUN065 has a stainless steel case, an anti-reflective synthetic sapphire crystal, a silicone strap, a unidirectional rotating bezel with large Arabic numeral minute markers, a bezel guard, a date window, a GMT hand, 24-hour markers, luminescent hands and markers, and a Caliber 5M85 kinetic quartz movement.

Pros:

  • Strap is comfortable to wear
  • Watch face is easy to read
  • Keeps time well
  • Power reserve of up to 6 months
  • Water-resistant up to 200m

Cons:

  • It’s big and heavy
  • Small date window
  • Lume doesn’t last long

Price: $725

Conclusion

Solar and kinetic watches are good alternatives for automatic watches which tend to be more expensive. These two types of watches work almost the same except for where they get their power from. 

Neither is better than the other. It all boils down to which best suits your style and usage.

 

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