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#1
Old 10-04-2012, 11:59 AM
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Wristwatches: solar? self-winding?

My trusty Seiko, bought 17+ years ago, has gone missing. Its battery had died, so I took it off and put it down somewhere around the house. Doubtless it'll turn up, but it's been a few months and I'm going batty w/o a wristwatch. I *really* lose track of time.

In recent years, it had seemed to need battery changes more often than you'd expect anyway, so I thought I'd consider self-winding watches or solar watches.

Anyone use either of these and like them?

Anyone have any opinions about Seiko watches in general anyway? They've always been a reliable choice but some old faithful brands have started making lower-quality products lately, and I'm wondering if Seiko might be one of them.
#2
Old 10-04-2012, 12:24 PM
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I've never used a solar watch, but I have several self-winding or automatic watches, including a Seiko divemaster. They keep very accurate time. The only problem with automatic watches is that if you don't wear it regularly or don't put it on an auto winder device, it will stop running, and you will have to reset it when you wear it next. For most of my automatics, two days of non wearing will permit it to wind down.
#3
Old 10-04-2012, 12:29 PM
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I have a Casio solar watch that my brother gave me, which has been working great for five years at least. It also finds the time radio signal every morning around 3 am and adjusts itself. Which is fine except when I was in the Baltic, out of range of the signals, and it got really confused each afternoon.

I've had self-winding watches and I prefer solar, since it will charge in a lit room even if you don't wear it.
#4
Old 10-04-2012, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
I have a Casio solar watch that my brother gave me, which has been working great for five years at least. It also finds the time radio signal every morning around 3 am and adjusts itself. Which is fine except when I was in the Baltic, out of range of the signals, and it got really confused each afternoon.
I bought a similar Casio last year. It seems to work very well, and stays charged with no particular effort on my part, though I understand that using the backlight hits it pretty hard. On the downside, it's pretty bulky, and some of the status displays (which show DST, battery state, and such) are a little hard to read.
#5
Old 10-04-2012, 01:00 PM
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I got a Seiko Solar Railroad watch like this about a year ago. It's been great.
#6
Old 10-04-2012, 01:07 PM
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I have a Citizen Eco-Drive solar-powered watch that my wife bought at Costco. I like it well enough, although I've only had it for a year or two. I've certainly never had a problem keeping the battery charged.
#7
Old 10-04-2012, 03:13 PM
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Thanks for the opinions! A self-winding watch wouldn't be an issue since I typically leave mine on 24/7 (except when bathing or swimming), though if it was the sort that had to be moved around every 4 hours, that would be a hassle.

The solar just sounds *cool*.
#8
Old 10-04-2012, 03:32 PM
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I've had a Citizen Eco-Drive watch for about 10 years - it's great - keeps perfect time and keeps a charge without needing any special exposure to light - I just wear it, and it works.
#9
Old 10-04-2012, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
I've had a Citizen Eco-Drive watch for about 10 years - it's great - keeps perfect time and keeps a charge without needing any special exposure to light - I just wear it, and it works.
+1
#10
Old 10-04-2012, 05:09 PM
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Self winders break if you do stuff like hammer nails or similar activities.
#11
Old 10-04-2012, 05:23 PM
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I bought a solar (Citizen Eco Drive) several years ago. I originally was looking at self-winding, but I didn't like the bulkiness of those. The saleswoman said I should look at solar instead since the bulkiness is (or at least was) required for self-winding.

They don't "look" like they are solar powered either, which is nice.
#12
Old 10-04-2012, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
In recent years, it had seemed to need battery changes more often than you'd expect anyway, so I thought I'd consider self-winding watches or solar watches.

Anyone use either of these and like them?.
I bought a self winding watch. Looked pretty, couldn't keep time. The watch flat out stopped if I went more than a day without wearing it. And even on the days when I was wearing it, it would drop a few minutes each day. But it was quite pretty.

Until the second hand fell off.

Ok, maybe I just got a complete dud.
#13
Old 10-04-2012, 07:01 PM
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I've had a couple of self-winding Tag Heuers, and even wearing one 24/7 and having a job/life that kept me on my feet and walking for 12+ hours a day, it would stop running after a few days. My then-fiancee took it back and got a different model which exhibited the same behavior. She then got me an auto winder, which seemed to render senseless the idea of a "self-winding" watch. Damn shame, as I was really taken with the looks of the things (both were from the Monaco line). It was more practical to wear a traditional wind-up watch, or a battery-powered one.

Never have had a solar powered watch, so no experience there.

Last edited by Student Driver; 10-04-2012 at 07:01 PM. Reason: removing fragment of a sentence
#14
Old 10-04-2012, 07:36 PM
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I have two of the Citizen Eco Drive watches. I love(d) them both. One my ex wife gave me. I wore it every day for about 6 years. I don't think it lost much, if any time. When she left and I knew she wasn't coming back I put it away and got myself a new one. Had it for almost two years now. I don't think it's lost any time in those two years.

I like the way they look, about the only thing I don't like are the bands. I got leather bands for both, the first one broke, the second one has a strange lock on it that I don't really like, and the leather is starting to wear now.
#15
Old 10-04-2012, 07:52 PM
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Seiko 5's are great - well made and inexpensive. You have to spend a lot more to get a better self-winding watch.
#16
Old 10-04-2012, 08:21 PM
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I'd never recommend a cheap self-winding watch. I've got a pretty good collection of nice watches and setting time isn't a big issue. If you don't watch to deal with setting time, don't buy a self-winding watch. They weren't designed to be perfectly accurate forever.

I bought mother a Casio solar watch 15 years ago, and she's still wearing it.

I got my wife a Seiko solar watch and it regularly stops. I don't know if it's because she's not careful about making sure to keep it out, face side up when she doesn't wear it, though.
#17
Old 10-04-2012, 08:52 PM
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I used to sell watches, at a couple of upscale jewelry places, back in the day. My opinion was to just stick with the battery powered ones, because for most "everyday wear" watches (I'm talking Seiko, Citizen, etc. - quality watches that run $100-400 or so - not junk or fashion watches) they usually have some sort of self-winding or solar powered models available, but they cost 1.5x to 3x the price of a similar, battery-operated model. And they don't have 1.5x to 3x the lifespan of battery watches. They last just about the same amount of time.

Why do I say that? Well, if you wear it EVERY DAY... the bracelet or strap is going to wear out in 10 years and probably less, anyway. Do you want to be bothered with trying to find and order a replacement band for a watch that's probably already looking pretty banged up after being worn that long anyway? Or will you most likely just toss it in a drawer and buy another one when the strap goes, regardless of whether the watch movement is still working?

I mean, if you bought a Rolex or something for $5k, of course it'll be worthwhile to replace the bracelet and keep wearing it. The $200 Seiko, not so much.

Watch batteries are cheap. Ten cents or so apiece, if you buy a handful of them at once, online.
#18
Old 10-05-2012, 07:40 AM
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I am wearing a Seiko Kinetic 100M water resistent that I bought 10 years ago. Replaced scratched crystal and just recently the kinetic device. Stainless band is going strong.
I have been wearing Seiko watches since early Navy days (dive master X 3). Only the rubber straps ever gave out, I would usually just bash them to death.
The current model has a feature to check the charge, indicates up to 30 days, but it started dying if I didn't wear it for the weekend, hence the replacement kinetic gizmo.
#19
Old 10-05-2012, 08:46 AM
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I has a self winding watch but didn't wear it enough to keep it going. I have since long gone watch-less due to cell/smartphones.

If you wear it all the time then SW watches would seem a option, if solar would also autocharge enough to keep running continuously, that would seem like a equally good option.

But solar needs some way to store energy, which usually means a battery, which then I need to ask about life of the rechargeable battery and replacement of that when it no longer can supply enough reserve power. This would also go for the SW watch if it stored electrically, mine was mechanical.
#20
Old 10-05-2012, 09:16 AM
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I'm a fan of self-winders. I have four of them on a watch winder on the table, so they're always ready, whichever I choose to wear on a given day. Two of them have the day and the date, so they're a pain to set if they run down. One only has the date, and the hour hand can be moved independently, so it's easy to set if it runs down. One just tells the time.

A 25-year-old former co-worker visited. She saw the winder start to turn and asked if it was a display for my watches. I told her no, it's a winder. She looked confused, so I had to explain that they watches used an automatically-would spring instead of a battery. She had to point the winder out to her boyfriend when they came over for dinner one night. Intelligent girl, but too young to have been to exposed to non-electric watches.
#21
Old 10-05-2012, 09:44 AM
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A watch-winder, whether AC, battery or water-powered, would seem to defeat the purpose of a self-winder, wouldn't it?
#22
Old 10-05-2012, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
A watch-winder, whether AC, battery or water-powered, would seem to defeat the purpose of a self-winder, wouldn't it?
If you have one watch that you wear every day, then a winder isn't needed. But I wear three of the four watches that I keep on the winder (one is a duplicate, so I don't wear it), and I only wear a watch when I go out of the house. Since I telecommute three days a week, a watch is likely to wind down unless I store it on the winder.
#23
Old 10-05-2012, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
I've had a Citizen Eco-Drive watch for about 10 years - it's great - keeps perfect time and keeps a charge without needing any special exposure to light - I just wear it, and it works.
+2. Zero issues with it. Great watch.
#24
Old 10-05-2012, 03:19 PM
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I have a Pulsar Solar, which I think is made by Seiko, purchased in 1998, worn daily for about 5 years and occasionally for the last 9 or so. I really like it and it still works great.
#25
Old 10-05-2012, 03:45 PM
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I have 5 watches that I wear regularly, three of which are Seikos. I have a Citizen Eco-drive watch, a Seiko automatic (self winding), and three battery powered watches. I have had no trouble with the solar or automatic watches. However, since I don't have a winder, the automatic does run down and stop after 36-48 hours of inactivity.

As many have said, you can get a very good battery-powered watch for $100-400. The ones that I have require a new battery every 5-6 years. I think that it cost me ~$7 to have a jeweler replace one.

The automatic and solar watches are by far the thickest ones that I own. If you want a thin watch you should stick to battery powered quartz movements.
#26
Old 10-05-2012, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Student Driver View Post
I've had a couple of self-winding Tag Heuers, and even wearing one 24/7 and having a job/life that kept me on my feet and walking for 12+ hours a day, it would stop running after a few days. My then-fiancee took it back and got a different model which exhibited the same behavior. She then got me an auto winder, which seemed to render senseless the idea of a "self-winding" watch. Damn shame, as I was really taken with the looks of the things (both were from the Monaco line). It was more practical to wear a traditional wind-up watch, or a battery-powered one.
.
I have a Tag Heuer Link Automatic Chronograph and I've never had a problem with it. I don't wear it when I'm sleeping and it winds down after about 24-48 hours if I'm not wearing it.

Last edited by msmith537; 10-05-2012 at 06:07 PM.
#27
Old 11-19-2012, 11:46 AM
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Update: it sounded like a self-winding watch would turn out to be annoying due to the accuracy issues, unless I went for a higher-end one that was both self-winding and quartz (e.g. Seiko Kinetic). I wound up getting a Seiko solar watch and it's been pretty good. The main annoyance is that the bracelet is not at all adjustable (their older-style ones could be adjusted up to maybe 1-2 cm difference), and it *just* fits my big-boned wrists (OK, I'm fat too but normally watches aren't a problem). So I tend to take it off more than I otherwise would.

I misplaced it once already because of that - found it a couple weeks later *still running* and with the correct time. Must have been on the floor with just enough light to keep it going.

And of course I found my battery-powered one immediately afterward .
#28
Old 11-19-2012, 06:35 PM
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I killed my fake Seiko at a job where I had to use a degausser. That was ten years ago. My parents gave me a real one for my birthday and I love it.
#29
Old 11-19-2012, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
The main annoyance is that the bracelet is not at all adjustable
Are you sure? The removable parts of the links on the older bracelets used to be really conspicuous, but on newer ones, they're still there, but engineered so that the join is almost invisible on the sides of the bracelet links.
#30
Old 11-19-2012, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
Are you sure? The removable parts of the links on the older bracelets used to be really conspicuous, but on newer ones, they're still there, but engineered so that the join is almost invisible on the sides of the bracelet links.
Pretty sure. I don't see any place where I could move a spring pin to a different set of holes (like on my older watchband). It wasn't "obvious" there either, you had to know what to look for.

My old watch had a band something like this. If you look carefully at the 4th picture that shows the clasp area opened, you can see the the right-hand portion is connect to a place with a couple of other holes. It is a pain, but you can have it connected to a different set of those holes. My new watch doesn't appear to have anything of the sort - if you scroll down and click on the "deployment clasp" link you'll see a line drawing. If you see a way to adjust that, let me know .
#31
Old 11-19-2012, 11:56 PM
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Yeah, I think you're right, that bracelet doesn't look like it has fine adjustment capability. Strange. Are you using all the links that came with the watch? You can call Seiko's U.S. service center and I believe they will send you extra links for free - you can have a watchmaker insert one more and it'll loosen it up a bit.

http://seikowatches.com/support/...thamerica.html
#32
Old 11-20-2012, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by ReticulatingSplines View Post
Yeah, I think you're right, that bracelet doesn't look like it has fine adjustment capability. Strange. Are you using all the links that came with the watch? You can call Seiko's U.S. service center and I believe they will send you extra links for free - you can have a watchmaker insert one more and it'll loosen it up a bit.

http://seikowatches.com/support/...thamerica.html
Yep - I'm using the bracelet as it arrived (there were no extra links). It just seems silly that you have to go to so much extra trouble to make the thing fit. Even if it's too large, it looks like a daunting task to remove links. Their original design (on my older two watches) was a lot "easier" to adjust (as much of a pain as it is to move those spring pins, it's at least *possible* without special equipment).
#33
Old 11-20-2012, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by hogarth View Post
I have a Citizen Eco-Drive solar-powered watch that my wife bought at Costco. I like it well enough, although I've only had it for a year or two. I've certainly never had a problem keeping the battery charged.
I've had my Citizen Eco-Drive watch for ... 4+ years now. It's NEVER needed any kind of attention, and it was purchased at a very low, closeout price from a Sportsman's Guide catalog.

It DID have a satin band, which wore out, and I never could find an exact replacement. But my gentleman friend (now spouse/genius on eBay) found a pair of Japanese sterling silver "Black Hills Gold" knockoff bolsters (the parts that go onto each side of the watch), which we joined up with a cheap Speidel stretch band ... what can I say, but that it's a really beautiful, interesting watch !!!

I highly recommend this brand.
#34
Old 11-20-2012, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Harmonious Discord View Post
Self winders break if you do stuff like hammer nails or similar activities.
Self-winders/mechanicals also disappoint wearers greatly if they've become accustomed to the forever-accurate readout of any quartz watch. I love my self-winders, but even the best of them lose a minute a month or so of accuracy.
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