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Solar Watches - Any Downsides?

7 posts in this topic

I'm intrigued by the idea of solar watches - they're not exactly new these days - and bought a Seiko Solar before Christmas. It's a simple, military-style face, with day and date functions and a hacking second hand.

 

I'm attracted to them because I like the idea of a watch without a disposable battery and, so far, it's keeping excellent time. I experimented with a Seiko Kinetic some time ago - an "Arctura" model - but it was very heavy and I get bored with an automatic watch that I don't wear all the time. One of the problems with the kinetic is that, although there's no battery, the capacitor can deteriorate over time - and I believe the shelf life before that component requires replacing is around 5 years. Which is why you see quite a few going cheap on eBay...

 

Is there a similar downside to solar-powered watches?

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I have had a citizen pro-master eco-drive for about 15 years and it has never let me down. I use it mainly when I go on holidays and it quite often stops completely because I keep it in a draw for months on end.

 

I leave it on the window ledge for a couple of days with the stem pulled out. Then I push the crown in and it just carries on. A great watch.

 

These capacitors do not last forever unfortunately but can be replaced reasonably cheaply when they do. 

 

To be fair - many watches with standard lithium batteries (Seiko Perpetual Cal., Casio, Timex Indiglo) can last for many years also - so I'm not really sure about a clear advantage capacitor based watches have over lithium battery based watches. But Solar does have a clear advantage over the Kinetic's as there are less moving parts to wear out.

 

Rechargeable lithium ion would be better I suppose - some Kinetic's have those.

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I have had a citizen pro-master eco-drive for about 15 years and it has never let me down. I use it mainly when I go on holidays and it quite often stops completely because I keep it in a draw for months on end.

 

I leave it on the window ledge for a couple of days with the stem pulled out. Then I push the crown in and it just carries on. A great watch.

 

These capacitors do not last forever unfortunately but can be replaced reasonably cheaply when they do. 

 

To be fair - many watches with standard lithium batteries (Seiko Perpetual Cal., Casio, Timex Indiglo) can last for many years also - so I'm not really sure about a clear advantage capacitor based watches have over lithium battery based watches. But Solar does have a clear advantage over the Kinetic's as there are less moving parts to wear out.

 

Rechargeable lithium ion would be better I suppose - some Kinetic's have those.


I just came across a Citizen Eco-Drive SkyHawk Blue Angel at a thrift store and picked it up for $13.00. It does not appear to be working but at that price I thought well worth taking a chance on. What steps would I take to troubleshoot this thing?

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50 minutes ago, mcass said:


I just came across a Citizen Eco-Drive SkyHawk Blue Angel at a thrift store and picked it up for $13.00. It does not appear to be working but at that price I thought well worth taking a chance on. What steps would I take to troubleshoot this thing?

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My understanding is the capacitor is usually the cause, just like the battery in regular quartz watches.

You will need the caliber size on the back of the case to find out which capacitor to use (I wrote into Citizen to find out which capacitor mine use as a pro-active measure) I am having trouble reading yours, it is most likely a caliber C650 and the capacitor in that case would be a 295-56

There's a large listing on Otto Frei, by caliber:

http://www.ofrei.com/page954.html 

It could be the contacts as well, here's a video on that subject: 

 

I have, 3 solar charging watches:  2 Citizen eco drives and a Casio MTGM900DA-8.

So far, all three are very efficient in charging and keeping their charge for prolonged periods. I find the digital display on the Casio to be the most efficient so far. The interesting thing about the Casio is that it will hibernate if you don't use it to save power.

Hope that helps.

 

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What do you know! I stuck it under a light for a couple of hours and the display lit up and the hands began to tick! Now to figure out how to set the darn thing!


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The Citizen Eco-Drives are great watches. Mine was low on battery because it was kept in a room with curtains quite often closed to stop sunlight fading some prints. After a few hours in direct sunlight, it was fully charged.

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6 hours ago, mcass said:

What do you know! I stuck it under a light for a couple of hours and the display lit up and the hands began to tick! Now to figure out how to set the darn thing!


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Just go to this page and enter your calibre number you can download a pdf file for any citizen quartz watch,

http://www.citizenwatch.com/en-uk/support/setting-instructions/

Casio, Citizen and seiko all have excellent sites for downloading manuals even for models from the 80's

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