My Eco Drive watch or Solar watch doesn’t work any more?

If you own a solar powered watch, such as a Citizen EcoDrive or other brand, like Seiko or Casio, and it stops working, don’t panic.  Sometimes, the solution is much more simple then you may think.

I personally own about fifteen EcoDrive watches.  I think they are some of the best watches I’ve ever owned.  I have one Solar Powered Casio, that also works well.  I tend to wear it when I’m out doing something casual, like riding my motorcycle, shooting etc.

From my stores, I’ve sold literally hundreds of Citizen EcoDrive watches, maybe even more.  I stopped counting many years ago.  In all these years, when it comes to any type of solar operated watch, here are the issues that I’ve dealt with, and the solutions to which we’ve solved them.

  1. The watch is not running at all
  2. The second hand moves at two or three second intervals, instead of 1 second at a time
  3. The watch does not get a good charge
  4. The watch is running, but I’m unable to set it

Your solar powered watch is not running at all.  There are several reasons for this.  First, the watch was stored in a dark place, where it did not get enough light to charge the battery for a period of three months or more.

The quick solution to this is pulling the step out to the second click, and leaving the watch on a kitchen counter during the day, all day.  Eight hours of light is usually enough to fully charge the battery, or at least bring it back to life.  Once you’ve left the watch in the light for a period of time, set the time, push the crown back into the case, and see if it runs.  This usually works for about 90% of all solar watches I’ve encountered.

The second had moves more then two seconds at a time.  This is often a diagnostic tool built into many quartz (battery operated) watches as well as solar watches.  This jump in motion of the second had is an indication that either the battery is going bad, or the rechargeable battery needs more light.  Again, if your watch is solar powered, leave it in the light for at least eight hours, and test it to see if it starts to work normally afterwards.

If your watch is a quartz (battery operated) watch, and Not solar, then bring it to a watchmaker or jeweler to have the battery replaced.  Normally, this two or three second jump for the second had will still allow the watch to operate normally for about two or three weeks, sometimes less depending on the manufacturer and the model of the watch.

The watch does not charge during normal use.  Sometimes, a solar watch does not get enough light to operate.  If you wear a suit and it covers the watch, and the dial doesn’t get enough access to light during the day, or when it is stored, it may stop working.  This is very uncommon, but I’ve seen it happy.

Yet, other times, you know the watch has enough access to light, but for some reason, the watch keeps stopping.  There are two possibilities to this problem.  First, the rechargeable battery may be bad.  Especially if it is more then eight to ten years old.  In some cases, but very rare, I’ve seen two or three watches that have had bad rechargeable batteries, but they were new, and those were covered by warranty.

In a very rare case, some solar cells have god bad, or been damaged.  I have seen only two watches in the past fourteen years, where the solar cell has gone bad.  To be honest, it was due to exposure to heat, while leaving the watches on a window sill to charge.  The heat from the sun, beaming through the glass caused enough damage to the watch, so that they would not charge.

The rechargeable  batteries are replaceable, and the cost of these cells rage from $30.00 to $125.00 depending on the manufacturer and the model of the battery.  Very few jewelers or watchmakers keep these in stock, so keep that in mind, as it may take up to 10 days to repair that.  In other cases, some jewelers may send your watch to a manufacturer or a third party, delaying it even further.

My watch is running, but I can’t set it.  Sometimes, depending on the model of the watch, after a battery has discharged and been recharged, a watch has to be “Reset”.  Somewhat like a computer, in the owners manual, you will find instructions for this.  Most EcoDrive watches today, can be reset by pressing a combination of buttons, for a specific period of time, as in two or four seconds.  Other models may have to be opened up, and reset instructions on the inside will show you how to short out the positive side of the battery to a grounding point, issuing a reset instruction to the watch movement.

Once reset, the watch can then be set to the normal time, and date functions can be set if the watch has a perpetual calendar in memory.  This almost always restores the watch back to its operating condition without any further service needed.  However, look in the owners manual or find the instructions online if they exist.

Of course, if your watch doesn’t work after all of these procedures… bring it to a repair shop!

The only other cause of failure I’ve dealt with, is that the watch was damaged due to a drop onto a hard surface or water damaged.  On a few occasions, I’ve seen someone bang the watch into something hard, while its on their wrist.  It happens, but not often.

If these solutions don’t help your watch, then feel free to contact either the manufacturer or a reputable service shop in your area for more help.  If you can’t find one, then feel free to contact us for some help.  We would be glad to offer whatever advise or service we can.

Happy Watch Hunting.

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