Solar watches are an excellent choice for watch wearers who want to cut back on battery waste. Next to Mechanical watches, Solar watches are one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly watch types around.

But... how does a Solar watch work?

Keep reading to shed light on how Solar powered watches work.

Skateboarder wears a Nixon Light-Wave Solar watch

How Do Solar Watches Generate Power?

It's not magic, just awesome engineering.

Solar watches utilize what’s called a solar cell to generate power. As light hits the cell, energy is absorbed, collected and converted into electricity. Solar cells on watches are typically placed behind semi-transparent dials or sometimes even on top of the dial.

Once the light has been converted into electrical energy, it’s passed through to a rechargeable battery—which means no more replacements!

And that’s the basics to how and where energy for Solar watches is generated and stored.

Inside Solar Watch Movements

Solar watches are sometimes referred to as “Solar Quartz” watches. That’s because Solar watches use quartz movements.

Quartz movements use quartz crystals to keep track of time. In fact, this type of watch movement is one of the most reliable and accurate movements in watches today. A small electrical charge is applied to the quartz crystal, causing it to oscillate at a predictable and regular rate. These oscillations are how Quartz watches (and therefore Solar watches) track time!

We won't get into all the nitty gritty details about movement specifics here. But if you want them to be brought to light as well, check out our watch movement guide or our post on how watches work.

Shop Nixon Solar Watches

Nixon Solar Watch FAQs

Finally, let's wrap up by answering a few questions that Nixon customers commonly ask us about Solar watches.

Keep in mind that these common questions are answered in reference to Nixon Solar watches. However, many of these answers will apply to most Solar watches available today.

How long do solar watches last on a single charge?

Nixon Solar watches can last anywhere from four to six months on a single full charge.

How often do you have to charge a solar watch?

The good news is that your solar watch charges in light. As long as you aren’t living a life in total darkness, your Solar watch charges regularly.

Can artificial light charge a solar watch?

Yes, artificial light can charge a Solar watch battery. However, artificial light won’t provide nearly as much power as the sun. The amount of charge you receive from artificial light depends on the brightness of the light and its proximity to your watch. The quality and quantity of solar cells in the watch factor into the equation too!

Do solar-powered watches need a battery?

Yes, Solar watches require a battery. The battery is where the light energy is stored after it has been converted into electricity by the solar cells.

Do I need to charge my solar-powered watch before its first wear?

Great news – your Nixon Solar watch is ready to be rocked out of the box. Once you start wearing it, your Solar watch will continue to charge!

Woman wearing the Nixon Optimist Solar watch on a sunny day

How much light is needed to charge my Solar watch?

No need to blast direct rays on your dial. Nixon Solar watches are very efficient at charging, even in low light like indoor office lighting. That said, if you do opt for direct sunlight, these watches can harvest enough energy from less than 10 minutes for 24 hours of power.

How long does the battery last in my Solar watch?

Ready for this?! In Nixon Solar watches, the battery can last around 10 years. Yup, 10 years!

Solar Watch Recap

Solar watches are rad. They reduce waste, look great and utilize the same Quartz movement technology found in most popular watch styles used today.

That said, not all Solar watches are created equal. For the best combination of style, function and variety, check out our top Nixon Solar watch the Light-Wave or the Optimist women's Solar watch.