Last Updated:  March 8th, 2019

Seiko Solar vs Kinetic Watches – Which Is Best?

If buying yourself a new Seiko watch is on the radar then you might have come across some of their Solar or Kinetic models. Seiko love to innovate, so it’s no surprise that they are leading the way in both these areas, but which is the best watch to buy?

In this comparison I will break down how each watch works, the pros and cons of each as well as show you some of the best models from each range. That way, you have a great place to start when you have made a choice.

Let’s jump in and compare solar vs kinetic watches from Seiko…

Seiko Men's SKA371 Kinetic Dive Analog Japanese Quartz Stainless Steel Silver Watch

The Differences: Solar vs Kinetic

Solar and Kinetic are both quartz watches that recharge themselves without you having to replace the battery every few years. This is great news, right? Because, let’s face it, when your face suddenly stops dead without you noticing, it is always at the most inconvenient time!

However, both these watches work in quite different ways, so let’s take a deeper dive into the mechanics of how these watches work.

Seiko Solar Watch Recharging

Solar watches recharge from the light given off by the sun, or any other light source. No surprises there, but how exactly does it work?

Seiko have incorporated a solar cell into the watch, under the dial. Light shines through the dial and hits the solar cell, which is then converted into electricity. This is used to recharge the battery (rechargeable battery) which is under the cell.

The full flow from light to charge can be seen in the diagram.

Seiko solar watch recharging mechanism

Image Courtesy of Seiko

Solar Recharging Environments

Although solar watches can be recharged with almost any light, not all lights are created equal. It pays to be aware of how much light each source puts out so that you can get the quickest charge possible (each watch varies in charging time, so please read your manual when you receive it):

  • Direct sun in summer - 100,000 lx
  • Cloudy day - 10,000 lx
  • 5cm (2 inches) from 30W fluro lamp - 10,000 lx
  • 20cm (8 inches) from 30W fluro lamp - 3,000 lx
  • General office environment - 700 lx

“Lx (lux)” is a unit of illuminance and luminous emittance used for measuring the intensity of light. One lux is equal to one lumen (amount of light) per square meter. 1lx=1lm/㎡  Information courtesy of Seiko.

Use A Super Fast Solar Charger

Another option, instead of hoping for sun or sticking your watch under your lamp overnight, is to use a specifically designed fast solar charger.

Here is an example of a lamp you can buy which produced 30,000 lx. That is way more than most lamps can produce and it’s super compact and easy to use. 
 
Just throw your watch on it face down, and it will charge it in no time.
CoolFire Solar Watch Fast Charger (compatible with all kinds of eco solar watches) TC-1046

Seiko Solar Watches

Seiko Men's SSC143 Stainless Steel Solar Watch with Link Bracelet
Seiko Men's SSC139 Excelsior Gunmetal and Silver-Tone Stainless Steel Solar Watch
Seiko Men's SNE331 Sport Solar Black Stainless Steel Watch with Beige Nylon Band
Seiko Men's SNE039 Stainless Steel Solar Watch
Seiko Men's SNE056 Stainless Steel Solar Watch with Leather Band

Seiko Kinetic Watch Recharging

Seiko first unveiled the Kinetic watch movement back in 1986. This works a little differently to the solar watches because it is charged by the movement of your wrist.

There is a mechanical weight/rotor at the bottom of the watch that basically drives a small motor and stores charge in a capacitor. That is then used to run the watch.

The diagram here is taken from a Seiko user’s manual and explains the parts (sorry for the quality).

Seiko kinetic recharge storage

Image Courtesy of Seiko

Kinetic Recharging

To best recharge a Kinetic watch you should wear it regularly. If you tend to store your watches for long periods, Kinetic may not be the watch type for you. It is also possible to store the watch on a watch winder, as used for Automatic watches, which helps keep the watch moving and charged at all time.

Seiko Kinetic Watches

Seiko Men's SKA371 Kinetic Dive Analog Japanese Quartz Stainless Steel Silver Watch
Seiko Men's SKA369 Kinetic Diver's Blue Dial, Red & Blue Bezel 200m Watch
Seiko Men's SKA705 RECRAFT Kinetic Analog Display Japanese Quartz Black Watch
Seiko SUN065 Special Edition Padi Kinetic GMT Diver Watch by Seiko Watches
Seiko Kinetic Cream Dial Men's Watch SKA779

Overall Pros & Cons of Both

Of course, with there being such a big difference in how these watches work there are bound to be some pros and cons. Let’s take a look at what they are in detail.

Seiko Solar Watches

Pros

  • Charges from any light source
  • Always charging (Unless you live in the dark)
  • Single charge can last 6 months
  • Battery lasts many times longer (up to 10 years)

Cons

  • Requires battery replacement (eventually)
  • No way to hand-wind (ie. no backup if lacking light or need quick charge)
  • Might be difficult to charge if you wear long shirts or sweaters all day (at work)

Seiko Kinetic Watches

Pros

  • Charges from your movement
  • Charge can last up to 6 months

Cons

  • Requires movement to charge, so will go "flat" if left in a draw for long periods
  • No way to hand-wind (ie. no backup if lacking light or need quick charge)

Seiko Watches

Below are some examples of Seiko watches in each category (Kinetic and Solar) so that you can see the kinds of stunning watches that are available in each style.

2 thoughts on “Seiko Solar vs Kinetic Watches – Which Is Best?”

  1. This tells me everything I already know. What I wanted to know was which is the one that lasts longer with having to touch it is service, battery change etc.
    I other words which would you choose for long life and reliability?

  2. The seiko solar is the better watch l have owned seiko s for decades, the kinetic does have issues if you don’t wear it, the solar holds a charge for 6 months on just 3 hours of direct sunlight the solar is deadly accurate the most accurate watch l own, l leave it in the draw sometimes for weeks on end and have had no issues, l can say with confidence the watch will probably out live me, in my opinion it is now seikos Best Buy watch by far.

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