Automatic vs Solar Watches: What’s the difference?

solar vs automatic watches

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Have you heard about automatic watches and solar watches, but wondered what the difference is?

With so many different kinds of watches on the market today it can be hard to figure out what is what.

So, in this post, I am going to break it all down for you to help you understand the differences.

What is an automatic watch?

Automatic watches use an automatic mechanical movement. This means that a spring that drives the gears is wound by the swinging motion of the wearer’s arm. Compare this to a more old-school mechanical watch where the spring is wound by turning the crown. That is why it is termed “automatic” – because the watch is wound automatically if you wear it all the time.

Seiko Coutura Perpetual Solar Chronograph SSG021

What is a solar watch?

A solar watch is a watch that is powered by the energy of the sun or other light source. The light created an electrical current that charges the battery that drives a quartz movement, in turn running the watch. So, this is far less mechanical than an automatic movement as there is not spring or a huge collection of gears inside the watch running the show.

Solar watches also tend to hold their charge for far longer, so even if you don’t wear them for quite a while, they will still be running when you go to wear them.

Automatic vs Solar Watches – Which is right for you?

Automatic watches are quite different from solar watches, so in many ways, the decision is quite easy.

Here are the pros of each to help you make a quick and easy decision.

Automatic Watch


  • More complex and impressive movement
  • Hand-crafted


  • Often more expensive
  • Thicker and heavier
  • Can stop running if not worn
  • Less accurate over time

Solar Watch


  • No winding necessary
  • More accurate over time
  • Thinner watch overall
  • Rarely stops running, even if not in the light for a while


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