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Pulsar Solar Watches - The 5 Best Affordable Models

Posted on March 15 2021

The Best Pulsar Solar Watches

What is the lowest maintenance wristwatch?

Forget about the style and brand for a minute. If you wanted a watch that didn't need any input or costs from you. Which type of watch would you buy?

Automatic watches need a service after several years. Plus the time and date have to be set every time it runs out of power.

A quartz watch? It's accurate until the battery dies, but you then need to fit a replacement.

A solar-powered watch is self-charging. It's also as accurate as a quartz model.

Of the few brands that specialise in Solar watches, Pulsar is the most affordable. Let's take a look at the best of their eco-friendly models.

The Best Budget Solar-Powered Watches


I'll give you a bit of background about the brand later. But first, I want to dive into the watches.

I've selected the five best models. There's a bit of an overlap as the brand is strongest when they produce masculine tool watches. So there's a lot of black and stainless steel on my list.

The watches were selected on design, price and functionality.

Pulsar Solar PX3219X1 Military watch

This attractive military-style model would be my first choice for a Pulsar solar watch. It's similar to the G10 model that Pulsar supplied to the British army. It's also very affordable.

The style is recognisable. This could be a Hamilton Khaki. It has the same 12/24 dial layout and the same distinctive hands. Of course, it's a fraction of the price of a Hamilton.

But the comparison is a good one. Pulsar was originally a brand owned by Hamilton. Hamilton is now Swiss-owned and Pulsar is Japanese.

I like this watch because it has some of that history. It's reminiscent of both the Khaki and the British G10. It's built to a template that oozes military charm.

So what we have here is a tool watch. Or a field watch if you'd prefer. Either way, it's a practical piece that is designed to be legible and durable. The Solar movement enhances that durability.

There's no complex mechanical movement and no battery changes.

As with most field watches, it's mid-sized and uncomplicated. In keeping with the military aesthetic, the top of the case is brushed to give an understated look.

Although there is a blue variation, I'd stick with this black version. It feels more authentic. And it's versatile.

It's a great watch for a little over £100.

Pulsar PX3219X1

  • 39.5mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Solar movement
  • Hardlex Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 


Pulsar Solar Dive Watch PX3033X1

How much watch do you want for £40?

I'd suggest that you're going to be hard-pushed to find a watch this good for such an inexpensive price.

Let's be clear. This is a sports watch with a Japanese Solar-powered movement. It also has 100M of water resistance. The case has a full stainless-steel construction and a screw-down case back. And it has Seiko's Hardlex crystal.

It costs about the same as a takeaway.

And it's not even an ugly watch! The style is similar to a Submariner and it has an appealing blue textured dial. The small wave design catches the eye and gives the impression of a more expensive watch.

There are small details that I wouldn't always expect from a watch at this price-point. Applied indices for example, and micro-adjustments on the bracelet.

Of course, there are some limitations. It's expected at this price. The bracelet is quite lightweight and the bezel doesn't rotate.

On balance, this has got to be the best value Solar watch I've come across.

Pulsar PX3033X1

  • 44mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 23mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Solar movement
  • Hardlex Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 


Pulsar Military Watch PX3187X1

This another very affordable military piece. It's clean, functional and great value for money. If you're a fan of the military aesthetic but the first watch wasn't the one, try this.

It's another comfortably sized budget watch, with a diameter of 40mm. It's slim too and has a 20mm bracelet.

It differs from the first model in a lot of small ways. Despite the similar look, most of the details are different. The numbers are larger with an emphasis on those at 3, 6, 9 and 12.

The hands are a sword style and there's a red tip to the second hand. It's a nice touch and adds a little colour.

The case is rounder and there are no crown guards. I like that. Particularly as the crown is prominent and heavy looking. It hints at a vintage-inspired design.

Again it has the Hardlex crystal and the Japanese solar movement.

Pulsar PX3187X1

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Solar movement
  • Hardlex Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 


Pulsar Solar Watch PX3171X1

This next model takes the same colour palette - black and silver - and adds more sophistication. It's not military-inspired and is less rugged.

It's not a dress watch either. But it's more formal than some of the others. There's still a numeric bezel and a sporty mesh bracelet, but it's toned down. This watch would look great with formal or smart casual clothing.

For me, it's the dial that makes this watch. The inner section is textured and the vertical lines create a sense of depth. The indices are clean and there's a prominent date window.

The small touches of red add enough colour to catch the eye, without compromising the watches simplicity.

This simple colour scheme and tidy dial mean that the case design can be more distinctive. It's attractive and gives the impression of a more expensive watch.

If you're a fan of the straightforward colouring - but you don't want a military watch - try this more ornate model.

Pulsar PX3171X1

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Solar movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 


Pulsar PX3023X1 Solar Watch

The final Pulsar Solar watch that I'd like to present is a dress watch. Again, it has the colour that works so well for this brand. And like the others, it's an uncomplicated design.

This is a classically styled dress watch.

It reminds me of a Seiko 5. There's nothing unnecessary. There are three hands and a date window. No colour. Plain hands. No rotating bezel or crown guards.

This is a watch built to tell the time and be unobtrusive. I can appreciate that.

It's a little under 40mm wide and has a slim profile. The markers are subtle and there's a neat minute track on the outer dial. The dial text is kept to a minimum and the case is basic.

You're here for the solar-power movement and that is the standout feature of this watch. Without that movement, this is just another budget dress watch. With it? It's a very affordable and practical watch.

No complications and no battery changes. There's a lot to be said for that simplicity.

Pulsar PX3023X1

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 9mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Solar movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 


A Very Quick History of Pulsar Watches


Pulsar is a former American watch brand that is now a part of the Seiko group. They make inexpensive watches, with an emphasis on Solar-powered models.

The Pulsar brand name was originally used by Hamilton when it announced the release of an LED watch. Their first Pulsar model was released in the early 1970s.

It was an expensive watch that featured the world's first digital display. This innovative technology was housed in an 18-carat gold case.

The company went on to release a calculator watch in the mid-1970s. They were then acquired by Japanese giants Seiko a few years later.

The brand had a high profile at the time and Roger Moore wore a Pulsar watch in Live and Let Die.

Pulsar watches are now a part of the Seiko stable and occupy a position at the most affordable end of their range. There is a focus on Solar and Kinetic models and less on mechanical pieces.

A notable model for UK collectors was the G10 model that they supplied to the British Army.



Are Pulsar Watches Any Good?


I'd suggest that they are.

That comes with a couple of caveats.

Bear in mind that they're aiming at a different market to Seiko and previous owners Hamilton. They're not making highly functional divers watches like Seiko. Or high-spec dress watches like the Hamilton Jazzmaster.

They are targeting a different market and are priced accordingly.

A nice Seiko diver might cost you £300-400. A Hamilton Jazzmaster could be over £500.

Compare that with the Pulsar dive watch on this list. It's £40.

When judged against other inexpensive watches Pulsar performs well. Particularly if you want an eco-friendly model.

If you're shopping in the sub-£100 bracket, Pulsar is definitely a brand to consider.

The fact that they have an interesting history is a bonus.

Conclusion


Solar watches can be very practical.

No battery changes. No daily winding or resetting of the time.

It's a sustainable way to wear a wristwatch. Light is used to recharge the battery and that battery can last the life of your watch.

Among the few brands producing Solar watches, Pulsar stands out. Not only because of their very affordable price.

The brand also has a history.

Pulsar was created in the US as a vehicle for Hamilton's cutting edge watch development. They then moved to Japan as the Japanese took advantage of the growth of quartz watches.

Pulsar is now a household name. A common watch brand that you may have overlooked. They are worth further investigation.

This is a brand that supplied the British Army with watches. A company known for the reliability of their watches. And they are very affordable.


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