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Thread: Solar Vs. Automatic Seiko's

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  1. #1
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    Off Topic post Solar Vs. Automatic Seiko's

    So I've been storming around the watch section in Macy's today, and I noticed a watch called the Seiko SNE109. It's solar powered instead of the automatic power that most Seiko's I've seen have. My question is, how does a solar powered watch compare to a Automatic watch besides being Quartz. (Accuracy, how long it lasts, ect.)


    (Seiko SNE109)

  2. #2
    Dive Watches Mod & MaL OnTimeGabe's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Vs. Automatic Seiko's

    A solar watch is nothing more than a regular quartz with a rechargeable battery instead of a disposable one, so it'll be much more accurate than most mechanical movements. Honestly, there's really no similarity between this movement and an automatic, but the rest of the watch should be of comparable quality to any other Seiko ISO diver. Rechargeable watches (whether solar or kinetic) still have a limited lifespan due to degradation of the battery, and how long that can be is a matter of debate. Figure on 10 years at the low end and 20 years or more at best. Generally the rechargeable cell can be replaced when it no longer holds a sufficient charge if the parts are available. I have a Pulsar PUA114 powered by a Seiko solar movement, and it's still going strong after 7-8 years.

    Last edited by OnTimeGabe; July 1st, 2011 at 02:39.
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    Regards,

    Gabe

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    Re: Solar Vs. Automatic Seiko's

    "Rechargeable watches (whether solar or kinetic) still have a limited lifespan due to degradation of the battery, and how long that can be is a matter of debate. Figure on 10 years at the low end and 20 years or more at best."

    Did you mean "Rechargeable batteries" ? I think I read this formulation more than once and it might diminish the fact that theses watches might not need service for 10-20 years. Feel free to correct me.. Congrats on the nice Pulsar.

  4. #4
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    Re: Solar Vs. Automatic Seiko's

    Quote Originally Posted by timeparadox View Post
    "Rechargeable watches (whether solar or kinetic) still have a limited lifespan due to degradation of the battery, and how long that can be is a matter of debate. Figure on 10 years at the low end and 20 years or more at best."

    Did you mean "Rechargeable batteries" ? I think I read this formulation more than once and it might diminish the fact that theses watches might not need service for 10-20 years. Feel free to correct me.. Congrats on the nice Pulsar.
    I apologize, but I'm not quite certain of what you are saying. Let me rephrase what Gabe said and perhaps that will answer your question.

    Solar and kinetic watches are quartz watches that use rechargeable batteries. The battery of a solar is charged by light, and the battery of a kinetic is charged by movement. The rechargeable cells that these watches use tend to last longer than standard batteries, hence anywhere between 10-20 years between battery changes.

    In particular, these rechargeable batteries tend to work best (and last the longest) when kept topped up. If you search around for discussions on kinetic watches and battery changes you will find that people who wore their kinetics rarely would find the battery would have a life no longer than a regular quartz watch. Those who wore their kinetics daily had very long battery lives.

  5. #5
    Dive Watches Mod & MaL OnTimeGabe's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Vs. Automatic Seiko's

    Quote Originally Posted by timeparadox
    Did you mean "Rechargeable batteries" ? I think I read this formulation more than once and it might diminish the fact that theses watches might not need service for 10-20 years. Feel free to correct me.. Congrats on the nice Pulsar.
    Technically it is the battery with the limited lifespan, but when faced with sending in a relatively cheap solar watch for service, many won't bother. I've read numerous threads where owners of these watches were unpleasantly surprised when told they found out they'll have to service the rechargeable cell in the not too distant future. The sales pitch is often: "you'll never have to change a watch battery again!", so people assume they'll run indefinitely. That's the only reason I brought up the limited lifespan of the cell. I'm a fan of solar watches, and I've got around ten of them (Casio, Citizen, and Seiko). But at the same time I'm realistic about the limitations of the technology. Citizen claims that current Eco-Drives will maintain 80 percent of their capacity after 20 years, so the day of the truly maintenance free watch may not be too far away.
    Regards,

    Gabe

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    Re: Solar Vs. Automatic Seiko's

    Thanks for taking the time to clear up that detail. I'm aware how theses watches (solar/kinetic) were not be the best choices for some watch enthusiasts. I would say that they're more toolish than simple automatics by having a movement more solid and accurate. But the main point to me is that they offer an alternate source of power that jumps in when you're not using the watch, using (currently) a cheap Lion battery to hold the power reserve for a max of 6 months if the watch is regularly on wrist. The second important point is that I'm pretty sure they all offer a ways to establish (one or both of theses security measures) :

    -The actual power reserve left
    -A visual warning when the watch reserve is only a couple of hours.

    Because a rechargeable battery
    -has an expected number or recharges (I remember reading 500),
    -rechargeable batteries loose their strength if left depleted,
    sporadic use of the watch might cause an early battery change if the watch is not stored in a way to keep it charged (by a window for a solar watch or a induction charger for a kinetic). While theses watches are more tool-ish, I still think they lack the magic of a mechanic watch. I feel automatics are more organic and you should at least own one. But when I dream of a motorcycle holiday to the west coast to surf for a couple of days, I'm wearing my PVD BFK on nato or a yet to be purchased ecozilla.
    Last edited by timeparadox; July 4th, 2011 at 03:20. Reason: added "(one or both of theses security measures)"

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