Our world continues to see an ever increasing reliance on battery power. From the ubiquitous smartphone to electric cars, and more and more in the past few years, the smart watch, everything has to be charged daily.
But do you remember those times when wristwatches didn’t have to be charged on a daily basis? You either had a quartz watch that needed a battery change every few years, or perhaps you were a fan, and still are, of mechanical watches, that needed winding every day.
Some might say that winding a mechanical watch every day is the same as charging it, so why not get a smart watch after all. It’s not the same thing. Not at all. Hand wound mechanical timepieces are special, and winding one every morning is a uniquely satisfying routine that only lasts for a few seconds.
So, if you’re still looking for that watch that doesn’t need charging every day, but you don’t want to go all mechanical, there are still alternatives. One of them is the kinetic watch. Perhaps you’ve heard about kinetic watches, but if you haven’t, allow us to enlighten you.
- What are Kinetic watches?
- 15. Seiko Year-Round Kinetic Titanium
- 14. Seiko Special Edition PADI Kinetic GMT Diver
- 13. Seiko Kinetic Classic
- 12. Seiko Velatura Kinetic Direct Drive
- 11. Seiko Kinetic Black Dial
- 10. Seiko Premier Kinetic Perpetual Novak Djokovic Special Edition
- 9. Seiko SKA785P1 Kinetic Watch
- 8. MVMT Chrono 45mm Men’s Analog Watch Chronograph
- 7. Seiko Kinetic Blue Watch
- 6. Raconteur Hemingway Automatic
- 5. Seiko Sportura Kinetic
- 4. Bulova Men’s Automatic
- 3. Seiko Japanese Quartz Black Analog Watch
- 2. Invicta Pro Diver Stainless Steel Automatic
- 1. Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel SNK805
What are Kinetic watches?
Kinetic watches are nothing more than timepieces that harness the movement of your wrist for energy, which then powers a quartz mechanism to move the watch’s hands.
You were probably thinking about automatic watches for a second there, but since they come with a quartz movement and aren’t mechanical in nature, they aren’t the same. But they do have something in common, which is why they are called automatic quartz or auto-quartz movements.
The advantages are obvious, at least to those familiar with the various watch movements. Quartz movements are the most accurate of them all, no matter how much craftsmanship goes into crafting prestigious mechanical and automatic movements.
That also makes quartz watches extremely cheap in comparison. Kinetic watches borrow a little bit from automatic movements, the rotor part to be more precise. It’s that self-winding mechanism that you get to see on the open case back of some automatic watches.
The Kinetic Mechanism
That rotor, which is nothing but a free moving pendulum in the shape of a half circle, spins and turns a pinion that’s connected to a tiny electrical generator, which in turn charges a piece of quartz inside the watch. That kinetic energy is then stored in a capacitator, or what we usually call a rechargeable battery.
The pendulum rotates as we move our wrists, and that movement translates into a high speed rotation of the pinion. The pinion is comprised of a small round gear meshed with a larger one, which are used to transform the slow movement of the pendulum into a high speed rotation for the pinion, and eventually into usable electrical energy.
The battery in which this energy is stored can last between two weeks and six months, and almost never needs a replacement, which makes Kinetic watches extremely advantageous in this regard.
Pros and Cons of Kinetic Watches
As with everything, there are pros and cons of kinetic watches. The most obvious advantage of kinetic watches over other types is of course the fact that they never, or almost never, need a battery replacement, and have almost infinite energy if worn regularly.
The precision of the quartz movement inside is another advantage over let’s say, automatic watches. An accuracy of +/- 15 seconds per month is a big deal when you think most automatic and mechanical watches have the same accuracy, but per day.
When fully charged, they can go on for up to six months, even if they’re not worn during that time, so no motion, and thus no charging goes on. They also come with a hibernation function which allows them to last for a long time in this event, which is another great advantage.
Usually, hibernation occurs after 2-3 days in which the watch wasn’t moved at all. Hibernation ends after the smallest shake, which then sets back the correct time and date and continues its ticking.
Let’s move on now and find out the disadvantages of kinetic watches.
The most important disadvantage is that they stop ticking when not worn for a long time, so if that is important to you, and have several watches that you wear depending on the occasion, a watch winder will become your best friend.
Another disadvantage of kinetic watches is that they’re not that widespread, so there aren’t many options available on the market.
Actually, most kinetic watches come from the Japanese watchmaker Seiko, because they were the ones to invent – back in 1986, and patent the kinetic movement. That means there are only a handful of other companies that succeeded in creating this technology for themselves.
If you’re still interested in kinetic watches, let’s take a look at some of the most affordable on the market right now.
15. Seiko Year-Round Kinetic Titanium
The Seiko Year-Round Kinetic Titanium, reference SKA765P1, has a captivating gold and silver toned dial and a titanium case and bracelet. The case is 41mm in diameter, and comes with a water resistance rating of 100 meters.
The lovely dial features a date window at the 3 o’clock position, and is protected by a Hardlex glass, which may not be on the licking of many watch enthusiasts, for its less scratch resistant than sapphire crystal.
The hands are luminescent, so they’re well visible in the dark. An overall attractive timepiece that goes for around $350.
14. Seiko Special Edition PADI Kinetic GMT Diver
An interesting option comes in the form of the Seiko SUN065 Special Edition PADI Kinetic GMT Diver, setting you back almost $100 more than the one above, going for a total $430.
The piece is rich in features, with an extra GMT hand for displaying another time zone, a handy dive bezel, 200 meters of water resistance, and power indicator that can be accessed by pressing the push-button crown at the 2 o’clock position on the case.
There’s a downside to this amazing watch though, and that’s the huge 47.5mm stainless steel case, which will be way to large for most wrists.
Other than that, it’s a well made rugged watch with a superb blue and silver aesthetic.
13. Seiko Kinetic Classic
For a more classic appearance, look no further than the Seiko Kinetic Classic (Reference SRN043P1). For about $170, you can have both a traditional dial design, stainless steel case and bracelet, and a trusty kinetic movement from Seiko.
It’s got a deluxe aesthetic to it, and some unique and sophisticated traits, such as the day indicator on the lower right side, below the traditional date window at 3 o’clock. The glass protecting the dial is sapphire crystal, so there’s no compromise done here. Water resistance is good, up to 100 meters.
12. Seiko Velatura Kinetic Direct Drive
The Seiko SRH013 Velatura Kinetic Direct Drive brings a very sporty appearance to the table, though it costs a little bit more, rising to around $450.
The sportiness of the dial caters to the more adventurous individuals, and the 42mm black stainless steel case and rubber band strap prove exactly that. The dial is protected by sapphire crystal, so it’s scratch resistant.
The Velatura features two interesting semi-sub-dials, a small one for displaying the day, and the larger one to serve as a charge indicator.
11. Seiko Kinetic Black Dial
Black dials are interesting and elegant, so the Seiko Kinetic Black Dial, reference SKA781, brings it forward in a design that befits a proper dress watch.
It’s still affordable enough at $350, and the low-key aesthetic makes it a perfect fit with more formal outfits. There’s luminous silver toned hands and white Arabic numerals for increased legibility, a fixed bezel, and a stainless steel case of 40mm in diameter, which should fit most wrists well.
Though it may not be as interesting as a mechanical movement’s insides, this watch comes with a transparent case back, so you can watch the kinetic magic at work.
10. Seiko Premier Kinetic Perpetual Novak Djokovic Special Edition
The Seiko Premier Kinetic Perpetual Novak Djokovic Special Edition is wonderful blend of craftsmanship and stunning visual styling available for $450.
The reliable caliber 7D56 kinetic movement inside powers the beautiful analog dial, with all its sophistications and complications. It’s a watch for the gentleman more than anything else.
9. Seiko SKA785P1 Kinetic Watch
The Seiko Kinetic Watch, reference SKA785P1, is an elegant and masculine timepiece in all stainless steel and available for just under $150. It combines boldness and elegance in a superb aesthetic with sporty cues.
The 42mm case features a fixed black bezel with minute numerals printed in silver that falls in line with the black dial contrasted by dual-tone silver hour markers and luminescent hands.
Water resistance is 100 meters, but unfortunately, the dial is covered with only Hardlex glass, a durable material but more prone to scratches as compared to the sapphire crystal. Keeping the affordable price in mind though, it’s understandable.
8. MVMT Chrono 45mm Men’s Analog Watch Chronograph
The MVMT Chrono 45mm Men’s Analog Watch Chronograph is one of the most minimalistic watches we’ve ever come across. And it’s an affordable one at $135.
The dial is all matte black save for the seconds hand and the tiny hands of the three sub-dials that come in a mellow light blue. The hour and minute hands are the same black as the dial, and there’s light grey hour markers subtly positioned on the outer ring.
The sub-dials are a 24 hour clock, a 30 minute timer, and a 60 second timer, and almost unnoticeable, there’s a date window between the 4 and the 5 o’clock positions, right under the right sub-dial.
7. Seiko Kinetic Blue Watch
Coming back to Seiko, we’ve got the Kinetic Blue Watch, Model SRN047P1, another blend of sportiness and elegance and trusty Japanese craftsmanship.
The velvet blue dial and the 42mm stainless steel case make for a wonderful contrast, perfect for a night out in a formal setting.
6. Raconteur Hemingway Automatic
The Raconteur Hemingway Automatic is a breath of fresh air in a world of Seiko kinetic watches. It comes without the extra fluff, impressing with its clean and elegant black dial, which is expected coming from a Swedish brand.
It’s a fine watch with an affordable price of $269, and a nice range of colors for the 40mm case and the leather strap.
5. Seiko Sportura Kinetic
The Seiko Le Grand Sports Kinetic (Model SKA511P1) is indeed a watch made for sports. It’s nailed the aesthetic right, and the features are precisely what they should be. Nothing more, nothing less.
There’s a black and silver rotating bezel, a 41mm stainless steel case, black dial, and contrasting silver tone indices and hour and seconds hand, plus a nice touch of red on the minutes hand.
It’s rugged and comes with 100 meter depth rating, and a high precision Caliber 5M63 kinetic movement. The price is a little spicy at $475, but it’s worth it.
4. Bulova Men’s Automatic
The kinetic Bulova Men’s Automatic 98A179 is a stunning sight for a very affordable price. It comes in a gunmetal case with an openworked dial so you can watch everything that happens inside the watch’s heart.
It’s a mesmerizing timepiece worth all the $370. While it comes with an automatic movement, and not a true kinetic one, it’s still powered by the movement of your wrist.
3. Seiko Japanese Quartz Black Analog Watch
Bold, elegant, and unconventional, the Seiko Japanese Quartz Black Analog Watch, Reference SKA649, features a modern and functional design with a style that’s rarely seen in other timepieces.
The dial is minimalist, but comes with a neon yellow accent on the right half of the minute ring that is eye-catching and gives it a sporty vibe.
2. Invicta Pro Diver Stainless Steel Automatic
The Invicta Pro Diver Stainless Steel Automatic (Model 8926OB) may not be a true kinetic either, but for only $89, it doesn’t even matter anymore. It’s still powered by the same wrist movement, with that pendulum on the back.
It’s also got a functional dive bezel which may come in handy in more situations than you think.
1. Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel SNK805
Probably the best wrist movement powered option, the Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel is both a beauty and a… steal.
This military-inspired timepiece showcases a captivating green dial, complemented by luminous accents and convenient day/date functions. With a 37mm case and a 7-inch strap length, this watch exudes both style and functionality.
The automatic movement operates seamlessly with an analog display, all protected by a durable Hardlex crystal.
It usually costs about $90 but you might even find it for as low as $70, so there’s no reason not to get one.
There aren’t too many options when it comes to kinetic watches, but the ones we’ve found are worth all the money. And they’re not too expensive either, so no complains there. Remember, a great watch isn’t always about the price tag, but about the joy it brings and the memories it creates.
In conclusion, affordable kinetic watches truly offer the best of both worlds – the convenience of a self-charging system and the satisfaction of owning a reliable timepiece without breaking the bank.
As a fellow watch enthusiast, I hope this article has shed some light on the wonderful world of budget-friendly kinetic watches and helped you find the perfect match for your wrist.