The evolution of wristwatches has been astonishing. Not long ago, all the watches needed hand-winding and time correction almost daily to earn the intended purpose. Imagining the regularity of attention the simple things required those days is difficult to come by, especially considering the wristwear we have available today.
People always strive towards the convenience of use regarding various technological gadgets, and hand watches are no exception. Out of all of them, solar atomic watches provide the comfort that no other can offer. But what makes them so special, after all?
The following post aims to uncover the core of solar atomic watches in how they function, what they offer, and who they suit. We’ll also bring out the top 10 timepieces you should look out for when searching for a solar atomic watch.
Why Choose a Solar Atomic Watch?
But why should you consider a solar atomic watch after all?
First off, you can entirely forget the concerns over the accuracy your solar atomic watch provides because there isn’t any more precise type of wristwear available.
Secondly, the rechargeable battery it employs is not like any other battery that needs a replacement every two to three years. A typical solar cell wears out after approximately ten years, making its lifetime at least three times longer than regular batteries.
In a nutshell, you can expect your wristwatch to last at least ten years without any troubles. The maintenance-free nature of solar atomic timepieces makes them the most hassle-free wristwear available on the market.
If you have already started to wonder about the astronomical sums you would have to pay to get one, rest assured because the prices are reasonable – a quality solar atomic watch costs in the region of $100-$500.
The two technologies behind these wristwatches are solar-powered movement and atomic timekeeping.
Solar power is quite a new advancement in the industry. Although the first solar-powered timepieces emerged already in the 1970s, the trend gained popularity several decades later.
What makes solar technology so special is the recharging possibility from not only sunlight but from all sorts of light. If a typical battery runs out of energy upon consumption, the rechargeable cell is capable of receiving and storing it, in that providing a constant charge.
Although the chances that a solar-powered watch runs out of energy are limited, the timepiece is not entirely maintenance-free, with the rechargeable cell needing a replacement after about ten years of use.
Nevertheless, when compared to a quartz watch that requires battery replacement every two to three years, the frequency of updating the rechargeable cell is a lot handier.
How Does a Solar-Powered Watch Work?
A solar watch absorbs sunlight and other sorts of lights through a solar panel behind the crystal. Miniature in size, it fits perfectly under the dial.
The panel then converts the light into electrical energy, which eventually powers the quartz mechanism. The unused power is stored in a rechargeable cell, and during the night or when covered, the watch uses that energy.
Most solar-powered watches go into hibernation or a power-save mode when not presented to a light source for an extended period.
During hibernation, the watches can last between one to two years without any exposure. The timepieces without the power-save mode usually last approximately six months.
The second ingredient in the solar atomic watches is atomic timekeeping. As the name already hints, the time keeps an atomic precision in receiving the accuracy via radio waves from an atomic clock.
There are around 400 atomic clocks worldwide, contributing to the calculation of international atomic time. The US clock – NIST-F1 – is based in Boulder, Colorado.
The timekeeping is so flawless that the watch will lose or gain only a fraction of a second in thousands of years, meaning it will never lose time.
How Do Atomic Watches Work?
The atomic clock adjusts the time through low-frequency radio signals on several occasions at night. A miniature receiver searches the signal and decodes it for an update.
The calibration takes place at night because signal interferences from other sources, such as metals and radio waves, are much lower than during the day.
A typical reach of waves from a transmitter covers about 2,000 miles, so if a wristwatch is out of the range for an extended period, the watch runs as usual but won’t receive any time calibration. When back in the area, the watch will make adjustments.
Pros of a Solar Atomic Watch
Solar atomic watches are the epitomes of convenience, offering incomparable advantages over the other types of wristwear. The most notable of them are listed below.
To a large extent, the wristwear is maintenance-free.
Typical mechanical watches need cleaning and balancing, while quartz equivalents require constant power source replacements.
Solar atomic watches, on the other hand, are free of such matters. They don’t require regular upkeep from a watchmaker nor any systematic power source substitution.
2) Always Accurate
Since the timekeeping relies on already sufficiently accurate quartz movement, which is furthermore adjusted to atomic precision through radio waves, the outcome is a marvel. No other watches possess such capabilities, except for wristwear that are controlled by GPS signals instead.
Forget manual time adjustments or any concerns that are to do with the watch stopping at one point due to the loss of energy – the technologies employed in solar atomic watches have eliminated the inconveniences, providing a hassle-free user experience.
4) Guaranteed Quality
The number of brands providing solar atomic watches is limited to a couple of manufacturers.
However, the few producing them are all renowned for the quality they’ve provided throughout history. Therefore, besides the convenience that comes with these watches, you can also expect genuine durability.
Cons of a Solar Atomic Watch
Despite the overwhelming advantages, solar atomic watches still have some cons.
1) Distance From the Atomic Clock
One of the disadvantages is the distance from the atomic clock. Although the Fort Collins clock’s broadcast reach in the USA is about 2,000 miles, in that covering the majority of states, it still won’t reach Hawaii and Alaska.
The same problem might occur in several places in the world; for instance, the German clock won’t cover Northern Europe entirely.
2) In Need of Constant Light
Another requirement for the watch to function is the presence of light. While most wearers carry their watches on their wrists, which is sufficient for the cell to charge, some people keep their watches in low-light conditions for an extended period.
Hence, the charging may not be adequate, and a watch with multiple features consuming energy may run empty.
However, the chance for this to happen is considerably low, especially given the minimum power reserve of six months when fully charged.
Besides, the probability of such amazing watches staying hidden in the drawer should be out of the question anyway.
GPS-Controlled Solar Atomic Watches
More advanced technology compared to the radio wave watches is the GPS solar timepieces.
The working principle is very similar to atomic watches, but instead of radio waves, they use satellites for time adjustments.
With this feature, the watch is not dependable on the distance from the atomic clock. Thus, GPS-controlled solar tickers eliminate one of the setbacks in dealing with simpler atomic wristwear – the range.
The providers of GPS-enabled watches are actually the same brands that also offer terrestrial atomic wristwear.
Since technology is always developing and taking into account the coverage problems of atomic watches, we’ll undoubtedly see the progress of GPS-enabled wristwear in the coming years.
Is The Watch For You?
Solar atomic watches suit the people who appreciate handiness, simplicity, and technological marvels. Those who travel a lot will definitely find fair use of the wristwear.
Although the loss of a millisecond a day, or a regular battery replacement, won’t cause any irreversible adverse outcomes, thus not convincing some individuals to buy such a watch, the solar and atomic technologies are still something to thrive for.
Brands of Solar Atomic Watches
The pool of solar atomic wristwatches isn’t too big, yet the reliability of the brands and their time-trackers is high. Solar and atomic technologies aren’t easy to develop. Moreover, providing a consistent quality year after year is even more difficult.
Therefore, the three top Japanese watch brands – Citizen, Casio, and Seiko – have proved their status to be the best in pioneering innovations. And as we can witness later on in this post, their watches are truly one-of-a-kind examples of innovativeness.
Citizen is the pioneer in multi-band radio-controlled watches when the first-ever wristwatch with that feature appeared in 1993. However, it’s first light-powered analog quartz watch was introduced already as early as 1976.
The collections combining both solar and atomic technologies are Promaster Skyhawk A-T, World Chronograph A-T, and World Perpetual A-T.
The Promaster line is the most notable of them. Besides Eco-Drive, these watches also come with atomic timekeeping in North America, Japan, China, and Europe.
The Dual Time feature you’ll also find from the watches offers the possibility to switch between and keep track of two timezones simultaneously when travelling.
Another Japanese brand with jaw-dropping innovations, including the two essential ones for solar atomic watches, is Casio. Tough Solar, Multiband 6, and Wave Ceptor are the technologies in Casio watches that ensure the functioning of such timepieces.
The variety of collections and models is wide. You can expect to find a large number of watches in different styles, starting with G-Shock watches for military purposes to Wave Ceptor wristwear for a more professional look.
Although being a late bloomer in atomic wristwear, Seiko was still able to become the first brand to introduce a three-band radio wave solar watch in 2005, capable of receiving time synchronizations from Japan, Germany, and the US.
Today, they’ve placed greater emphasis on a GPS-controlled time correction, which is employed by the Astron collection. The simpler technology is available in the Coutura line of watches.
Best Solar Atomic Watches
Following, we’ve listed the best solar atomic watches currently available. All of the timepieces come from the previously covered three watch brands and are guaranteed to last you a long time.
G-Shock GW7900B Solar Atomic
Case size: 50mm
The G-Shock GW7900B is filled to the brim with all kinds of features, ranging from simple daily alarms and GMT to complicated atomic timekeeping and tide/moon graph functions.
Since the timepiece is powered by solar energy, it won’t need any battery replacements and can energize itself from all sorts of light. When fully charged, the secondary cell can last 9-10 months without any light source applied to it.
The watch is also very sturdy, holding a water-resistance up to 200m (660ft) and standing gravitational shocks.
If you’re also a fan of water sports, especially surfing, then this G-Shock is a fantastic companion for the sports due to possessing accurate tide graphs in hundreds of surfing locations around the world. Feel free to check out how it compares to other surf watches.
Citizen Eco-Drive World Chrono
Case size: 43mm
The next entry is a perfect companion for frequent travelers who prefer their timepiece to be on the dressier side rather than sportier.
The Citizen World Chrono has an analog dial where the hands adjust to atomic precision, no matter the timezone you’re situated. The beige face is also equipped with several sub-dials that include a 1/20 stopwatch, 12/24-hour time, power reserve indicator, and perpetual calendar.
The Eco-Drive watch is perfectly sized at 43mm, suiting various wrist sizes and shapes. The stainless steel case’s golden tone and the brown leather band are also something that provides a wide use for various occasions.
On top of the excellent functionality, the Citizen watch is protected by a high-quality sapphire crystal and is guaranteed with 100m (330ft) water-resistance.
Pro Trek PRW-3510Y-8CR
Case size: 48mm
The Casio Pro Trek PRW-3510Y is one of the top watches to have for long treks in the wild. Not only does it come with atomic precision and solar-powered quartz movement, but it also features the Triple Sensor technology.
The innovation comprises a digital compass, barometer/altimeter, and thermometer. The Pro Trek, which also features on our list of the best thermometer watches, can stand severe weather conditions since it’s low-temperature resistant to 14F (-10C). On the opposite side of the scale, the timepiece keeps fully functioning in the heat stretching to 140F (60C).
Quality-wise, the timepiece is 200m (660ft) water-resistant, is made from a lightweight resin case, and possesses a mineral crystal for dial protection.
Seiko Coutura Radio Sync Solar
Case size: 44mm
The Seiko Coutura watch is another representation of a casual style of solar atomic watches. Cased in gunmetal stainless steel and equipped with a stopwatch feature, the timepiece will go well with a wide array of attires for a broad segment of wearers.
The most important features of the watch – solar power and atomic timekeeping – ensure convenient utilization when the battery can last up to six months when fully charged, and the nightly time adjustments keep the timepiece accurate to atomic precision throughout its lifetime.
Besides the utmost functionality you get from one of the best Seiko watches around, you can also expect heightened attention from your friends and coworkers due to its impressive visual appearance – a textured dial with tints of striking blue combine charmingly with a sleek design.
G-Shock GW2310 Atomic Solar
Case size: 46mm
The G-Shock GW2310 is a flawless sports watch for various conditions, whether on the land or in the sea.
First off, the 200m (660ft) water-resistance makes sure the watch will continue functioning even after long hours in the water. The swimming features, such as the elapsed time, split time, and stopwatch, are there to help you record your training sessions.
The 1/100 chronograph function in combination with shock-resistance and backlight, on the other hand, makes it also a fantastic wearable for rugged outdoor activities.
And if you add the solar feature energizing the timepiece and the atomic time, you end up with an impeccable watch.
Citizen World Chronograph A-T “Blue Angels”
Case size: 43mm
When the G-Shock GW2310 suits for land and sea endeavors, the next solar atomic watch, the Citizen World Chronograph A-T “Blue Angels,” is perfectly suited for aviators.
The Blue Angels is a flight demonstration squadron in the ranks of the US Navy. Both of the dominating colors from the jets, blue and yellow, are represented in the Citizen timepiece as well.
On top of the colors, you’ll also find a relevant function in pilot’s watches – a slide rule bezel. Sitting on the dial’s outer ring, the information-rich feature helps to calculate various things a pilot might need for a safe flight.
The Eco-Drive equipped watch also keeps atomic precision and is resistant to extreme temperatures.
Casio Wave Ceptor WVA-M640D-1ACR
Case size: 43mm
The Casio Wave Ceptor watch comes in classic apparel when the 43mm stainless steel case and black dial with indices make it an allrounder for different tastes and preferences.
What separates it from other similar classic timepieces is the radio-controlled technology and World Time feature covering the majority of the world. The small digital screen at the bottom of the dial displays a large number of functions, including a 1/100 stopwatch, days of the week, and 29 different timezones.
On top of the excellent functions, the solar panel underneath the face absorbs all kinds of light, equipping the Casio with solar power and maintaining a long power reserve for the features to function.
Citizen Satellite Wave GPS
Case size: 44mm
Technologically, one of the top solar atomic watches you can get is the Citizen Satellite Wave GPS watch. Fitted with the Satellite Wave innovation, the wearable makes time corrections through satellite signals while maintaining the possibility of radio synchronizations as well.
Besides the unique and high-class technology, the Citizen timepiece strikes with posh aesthetics that won’t go unnoticed. The textured dial surface combines smoothly with red designing elements and the overall black apparel.
And although you’ll find a convex mineral crystal with magnification instead of a premium-class sapphire crystal, the watch is nevertheless a long-lasting solar piece ticking the boxes of a brilliant wristwatch.
Seiko Astron GPS Solar
Case size: 45mm
When moving up the ladder in terms of a technological masterclass, we have the Seiko Astron GPS Solar watch. What separates it from the Citizen Satellite Wave is the better build quality – a sapphire-covered face and very durable stainless steel case and bracelet.
The Astron watch is a lot pricier option for solar atomic wristwear than any other line in Casio’s or Citizen’s production. One of the reasons constituting the fact besides the better build quality is high-grade GPS technology. As a matter of fact, the first-ever GPS solar watch was precisely Seiko Astron.
The watch can discover and identify all the timezones in the world. Whenever the dial is exposed to bright light, the timepiece automatically receives GPS signals. It’s also equipped with a power reserve indicator, perpetual calendar, and overcharge prevention function.
When fully charged, the battery can last up to six months, or in power-save mode, up to two years.
Pro Trek PRW-2500T
Case size: 50mm
We finish the list of the best solar atomic watches with the Casio Pro Trek PRW2500T. If you could put all the imaginable features into a wristwatch that an outdoorsman would need, then this timepiece is precisely the one.
First off, it’s the Triple Sensor technology comprising an altimeter, barometer, thermometer, and digital compass. Then there’s the tide graph and moon phase graph for extended information of the weather phenomena.
You’ll also find a 1/100 stopwatch, electro-luminescent backlight, five daily alarms, and a countdown timer.
A real icing on the cake is the combination of solar power and atomic timekeeping that complement the already feature-rich timepiece to near perfection for an active wearer.
Conclusion: Solar Atomic Watches
Convenience is the kind of merit individuals will not notice after they have it. Battery replacements and time corrections are not actually significant concerns, but if there’s a possibility to cut them off, then those with solar atomic watches wouldn’t swap their timepieces for anything else. The less hassle there is with a wristwatch, the more time can be allotted to activities that really matter.
Fortunately, you won’t have to pay fortunes, nor would you need to worry about the quality and reliability of the wristwear, because the three Japanese brands have taken good care of it.
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