While both solar and quartz watches use battery-powered movements, they have distinct advantages and disadvantages. So, if you’re anything like me, you’re curious about where you can get the best bang for your buck, which watch type lasts the longest, and what the pros and cons of the two watch types have become. The table below provides a quick and dirty summary of the pros and cons.
Solar Watch Quartz Watch Benefits
- The solar-powered battery can last for more than 20 years.
- Any light source can be used to charge it.
- Quartz watches are less expensive than solar watches.
It lacks the PV panel found on some solar watches.
- Adds complications to the movement, which can break.
- Requires battery replacement every 1-3 years.
What Exactly Is A Quartz Watch?
The majority of people’s wristwatches are quartz. While smartwatches have begun to replace the majority of quartz watches, quartz watches remain a popular option. I’ll explain why they’re so popular later. The name “quartz” is derived from the oscillating formed pitchfork in the quartz crystal movement.
The electronic-driven movement distinguishes a quartz watch. The battery’s current is transferred via a pitchfork-shaped crystal that vibrates at 32,768 Hz. This tiny pitchfork is connected to a microchip, which converts the 32,768 vibrations per second to one vibration per second. This is also why a quartz watch has a single tick per second.
A quartz watch can function as both an analog and a digital timepiece. The analog design includes hands for the hour, minute, and second. The digital, on the other hand, is a display with a, you guessed it, digital watch.
The quartz watch was invented in the 1960s, and the Seiko Astron was the first production quartz watch. Quartz watches were developed as an alternative to mechanical and automatic watches, which are more expensive to purchase and require costly maintenance.
Quartz watches are also distinguished by their low prices. Daniel Wellington, for example, has succeeded in producing a good-looking fashion piece at a low cost. This means you can buy three different watches, each of which corresponds to a different style. If you were to buy three watches with mechanical movements, you would most likely spend $500 or more.
What Exactly Is A Solar Watch?
Solar-powered watches first appeared in the 1970s. When compared to their quartz counterparts, their designs were very unique and innovative. However, solar watches became more affordable in the 1980s, when sales began to increase.
The first solar watch had a visible solar panel on the watch’s face. The squared Casio G-Shock design is a classic from the early days of solar-powered watches.
A solar watch is almost a one-to-one replacement for a quartz watch. The difference is an additional solar panel (also known as PV panels) and a rechargeable battery. That is, for the most part, the distinction.
What Exactly Is A Solar Watch?
Solar watch technology has advanced significantly in the modern era. Solar watches on the market today absorb both natural sunlight and artificial light from lamps and television screens. Although natural light is always preferable, it’s a fantastic feature to be able to sit in the office all day and never have to worry about the watch’s battery life.
The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Quartz And Solar Watches
Quartz and solar watches both have advantages and disadvantages. The quartz watch was created to render mechanical watches obsolete. Mechanical watches, on the other hand, are still manufactured and are very popular (including me).
As a result, the advancement of the solar watch is superior to that of the quartz watch in some ways. However, they will not be able to replace quartz anytime soon.
Although solar watches have advantages over quartz watches, they are not without drawbacks.
The Benefits Of Quartz Watches
To be honest, there are numerous reasons why quartz watches are preferable to other types of watches.
Quartz watches are inexpensive, and because of this, they are frequently used as fashion accessories. Maintenance costs are very low due to their ease of manufacture, parts are easy to replace, and they can be made very thin. Quartz watches are more precise than other types of watches.
In the following sections, I will go over each of the benefits of quartz watches in greater detail. It’s worth noting that some of these advantages also apply to solar watches, as they both use quartz movements.
The affordability of quartz watches is one of the most significant advancements from mechanical to quartz watches. Mechanical watches are manufactured using high-precision machinery. All parts are thoroughly tested to ensure proper tolerances, which is critical when assembling a mechanical watch.
Quartz watches, on the other hand, are much less expensive to produce because they do not require such thorough quality control. While quartz watches are of course quality-checked, they contain fewer complicated components than mechanical watches.
Because of their affordability, quartz watches can be purchased in greater quantities than solar or mechanical watches. So, if you have a variety of styles, quartz watches are a great option.
It’s possible that you work in an office with a formal dress code. Such an environment would necessitate the use of a dress watch. However, if you enjoy diving in your spare time, you will need a diving watch.
Both A Fashion Accessory And A Timepiece
As a result of their low cost, many brands are producing watches, which are a type of jewelry, accessory, or fashion piece. Brands like Daniel Wellington and Fossil, for example, use the price of the watches to create a plethora of different fashion-related trend watches.
Even if you are a die-hard watch collector who is devoted to mechanical and automatic watches, quartz watches are a low-cost way to obtain watches that are in style, which would be prohibitively expensive with mechanical or automatic watches.
Low Operating Expenses
A quartz watch has very low service costs. All watches require service from time to time. Quartz watches, on the other hand, are the best current optimized watches for avoiding servicing.
While many quartz watches are made of plastic, some, like mechanical watches, are made with metal components. Jewels are commonly found in higher-end quartz watches. Mechanical parts and jewels must be cleaned and lubricated on a regular basis.
Quartz Movement Is Standard
Miyota Cal. 2035 – Quartz Movement Standard
The limited complexity of quartz watches accounts for their low maintenance costs. Because quartz watches are made up of a few parts, disassembling and reassembling them takes little time. Furthermore, a quartz watch does not have a lot of moving parts.
The most common service cost in a quartz watch is the battery replacement, which is required every 1-3 years.
Replacement is inexpensive.
Typically, when something is inexpensive and requires little maintenance, it is also inexpensive to replace (Just think of most things you find at Ikea). At retail, the classic squared Casio watch costs around $20. Servicing such a watch is nearly a waste of money because a new one costs the same as the service.
Despite the fact that they are inexpensive to replace, I strongly advise people to take care of their watches. Replacement watches will never have the same sentimental value as the originals.
The entire concept of quartz watches was to improve accuracy. Despite its low cost, it took nearly ten years for the first quartz watch to become a common and affordable item. Quartz watches, on the other hand, have always been accurate.
There are various levels of accuracy with watches, or any watches for that matter. High-end watches will, of course, be more accurate than dollar-store watches. A poor quartz watch, on the other hand, will perform within 15-20 seconds per month. High-end quartz watches, on the other hand, will be accurate within 1-2 seconds per month.
High Accuracy Quartz (HAQ) watches are accurate within 10-20 seconds per year. HAQ watches are watches that can maintain their accuracy without the use of atomic clocks, GPS, or any other third-party movement aids.
In my other post, I discuss the accuracy differences between quartz watches and mechanical/automatic watches (open a new window to another post on this site).
Can be Extremely Thin
Another significant advantage of quartz watches is their ability to be extremely thin. Because the movement of a quartz watch is made up of fewer parts, they can be designed to be thinner than traditional mechanical watches.
If you want to buy an (actual) thin mechanical watch like the Bulgari Octo Finissimo or the Piaget Altiplano 910P, you’ll have to spend between $10,000 and $30,000. Quartz watches, on the other hand, such as the Skagen brand, can be purchased for as little as $100.
The Drawbacks of Quartz Watches
While quartz watches have some advantages over solar watches, they also have some drawbacks. Some of the disadvantages of solar watches are similar to those listed in the advantages section.
Having a quartz watch has some drawbacks that should be considered before purchasing one. The disadvantages of quartz watches are thoroughly discussed in the following sections.
Frequent battery replacements
One disadvantage of a battery-powered movement is that the battery must be replaced. Although a simple battery change only costs about $10, it is an inconvenient event.
Furthermore, depending on where you live, some jewelry can take days or even weeks to change a simple battery, which is also inconvenient.
How to Replace a Quartz Watch Battery
Change of quartz watch battery (Leave this to the professionals!)
The frequency of battery replacement is determined by the watch and the functions it offers. When compared to a watch that only tells the time, chronographs typically require more frequent battery changes. This is due to the increased power consumption of the chronograph function. The battery life will not be affected if you never use the chronograph function.
Typically, the interval between battery changes is between one and three years.
Repairing is difficult.
The ability to repair individual components is something that, in my opinion, makes quartz watches the least appealing. The majority of quartz watch damage will result in the movement failing partially or completely.
Most watchmakers would prefer to replace the entire movement rather than individual components. This is primarily due to the low prices of internal components and the likelihood of failure.
Because many quartz watches contain a significant amount of electronics, moisture and water can easily fatally damage a quartz watch.
Furthermore, if a component in a quartz watch is shaken loose, that component may come into contact with the bronze-colored coil. The coil is made of copper that is thinner than human hair, and a finger or a loose part could easily damage it.
Finally, a faulty battery causes oxidation and salt formation. While it’s a relatively simple fix, we all know that an eroded battery can be dangerous, especially if there’s other metal nearby. If the watch has been sitting for an extended period of time, the entire movement may be faulty.
Quartz watches do not last indefinitely.
Unfortunately, quartz watches do not last forever. While modern quartz watches are designed to last a lifetime, they are made of electronics that will eventually fail. When purchasing a quartz watch, however, you can make it last a lifetime with proper care.
Quartz watches are designed to be replaced rather than last multiple generations. While you shouldn’t expect a Grand Seiko to go out of production anytime soon, I wouldn’t be so sure about a dollar store quartz watch.
The Benefits of Solar Watches
If you’re willing to spend a little extra money, solar watches have a lot of advantages. The advantages of a solar watch include a lower environmental impact when compared to other watches, infinite battery life, charging in any light, and much more.
The modern technology used in today’s solar watches allows the solar panel to be hidden. The solar panel on almost all newer solar watches cannot be identified visually. This is due to the fact that watchmakers have discovered a way to make the dial into a solar panel. This technology evolved from Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology.
Battery Life Is Infinite
The infinite battery life is, in my opinion, one of the best features of solar watches. In theory, you should never have to change the battery of a solar watch because it can be charged by the sun.
Although the reality isn’t as pink and soft, you’ll need to replace the battery from time to time. However, watchmakers such as Citizen have stated that the battery (which they call a capacitor) that comes with the watch has a life of up to 20 years. Furthermore, the internal capacitors (which cannot be changed) are said to have a lifespan of up to 40 years.
Eco-Drive Technology by Citizen
Citizen Eco-Drive Technology Is Capable of Charging in Any Light
The ability of modern solar watches to charge in any light source makes them even cooler than quartz watches. You don’t have to leave the watch out in the sun for days to get a full charge like you used to.
Citizen’s Eco-Drive watches, for example, charge completely in 11 hours when exposed to direct sunlight. In comparison, you only need to spend 2 minutes in the sun to get a full day’s worth of battery life.
In addition, artificial light has been added as a charging option. It’s like the ultimate phone wireless charging dock. You can be buried in the office’s dark corridors with dim lights and still charge the watch.
A Timekeeper for the Environment
With the increased emphasis on environmental change, it seems like a good time to point out that solar watches are more environmentally friendly than their quartz counterparts. Although they may pollute the same amount when manufactured, solar watches will have significantly longer battery change intervals than quartz watches.
Solar watches, in contrast to mechanical and automatic watches, which require a lot of heavy tooling cutting in precious metals, are quite simple to manufacture and do not require precious metals.
There is no/low maintenance required.
The majority of quartz watch servicing consists of battery changes and, on occasion, cleanings, and relubrications for high-end quartz watches. However, when you buy a solar watch, you are essentially purchasing a “no-maintenance timepiece.”
The reason for this is that your average solar watch is not a high-end quality watch that requires disassembly, cleaning, and relubrication. It is, however, a functional tool that handles its own charging.
GPS, atomic clocks, and other aids that help the watch keep time to the millisecond are common features found in solar watches. As a result, solar watches can be much more accurate than quartz watches, which are already very accurate.
Because the watches have a charging dock on the dial, they can draw more power than a standard quartz watch. That is not to say that a regular quartz watch with an atomic clock or GPS built-in cannot be found. Such features are more common in a solar watch.
Solar Watches Have Drawbacks
There are a few drawbacks to owning a solar watch. While it’s manageable because it’s part of owning a watch, it can be a different experience than quartz watches.
Solar watches, for example, typically have a different troubleshooting mode than quartz watches. Whereas quartz watches would normally just stop when the battery ran out, solar watches give a warning.
Although you may think this is an advantage, most people who have never owned a solar watch and are unaware of its unusual behavior will believe it is broken. I’ve created a comprehensive troubleshooting guide for solar watches, which you can find right here (opens a new window to troubleshooting guide).
Additional Parts That May Fail
The main disadvantage of using a solar watch is that it contains additional components that can fail. Any additional components increase the risk of failure.
Solar watches, such as the Citizen Eco-Drive watches, have internal capacitors, a charging module, and other connecting electronics that allow the solar panel to charge the watch, whereas quartz watches do not.
Don’t be concerned; solar watches are not designed to be broken. However, the costs of repairing solar watches are generally higher than those of quartz watches.
Repairing is difficult.
While this is true for quartz watches as well, solar watches have additional electronics that cannot be disassembled. The electronics are either soldered to the PCB or wired to the PCB. The soldering is done to increase shock resistance.
Because of the increased complexity of the solar watches, it is difficult to replace, for example, a single capacitor. Instead, the entire PCB must be replaced, which is more expensive than a regular quartz watch.
More costly In comparison to Quartz Watches
Costs are associated with either performance or quality. When looking for a timepiece that will keep accurate time for years on end, solar watches have some added value for you as a customer. Because of the watch’s self-sufficiency, the average solar watch is more expensive than the average quartz watch.
Additionally, you will notice that solar watches have many other features that a typical quartz watch does not. These extra features are also not free. A chronograph, digital display, GMT, or other function is not uncommon.
Solar watches do not last indefinitely.
Solar watches, like quartz watches, do not last forever. This means that if water gets into the watch, the entire electronic assembly will be destroyed. At this point, the watch’s entire “heart” must be replaced. As a result, the actual watch no longer exists, despite the fact that the case is identical.
That’s about it for this blog, if you have any further clock/watches-related questions, feel free to use the comment section below. And if you want to read an interesting article on why clocks don’t appear in dreams, we have a great article on just that so do give it a click if you are interested “Why don’t clocks appear in dreams? Clocks and dreams!“. If you want to lear about some Chinese watch brands give this article a look.