Casio Tough Solar Watches – not a good idea

When I first came across Casio Tough Solar watches, I thought it would be good to have watches that were recharged using solar power. I thought there would not be any need to replace the battery since it would be continuously be recharged by the Sun. Little did I know that was a wrong choice.

Casio tough solar watch - not the best choice.

I bought this Casio Phys watch in the Bugis shopping area in Singapore. It has a big number, very easy to read especially when I was doing a run in the park during the evenings, with jogging motion and swinging arms and poor daylight condition. Running the chrono function and timing my run; yep, I try my best to keep fit and with a companion like this Casio watch to keep track of my exercise. Yes, it served me quite well for the few years that I had it.

I did not know that such solar powered watches required a battery change. I thought that as long as I kept it in the sunlight, it would be continuously be recharge. Towards the end of the useful life of the battery, I noticed that a word started to flash –“recovery” – after I had pressed the backlight button or any buttons that would require making some beeping sound. I thought it odd; till I realized that the battery was getting weak. Looking the battery bar (which was in the style of an egg shape ellipse), it still showed a full bar. Strange.

Going to the watch shop, and they confirmed that the battery was weak. However they mentioned that the battery was special and that they could not do the battery change. They have to send it to Casio to do the change. They have not done it before but guessed that the rechargeable battery would be more expensive that the normal ones, perhaps about RM30 to RM50 ringgit. Though I felt it was rather expensive, I decided to go ahead with the battery change.

After a week or so, the shop rang me up and informed me that they got the final estimates from Casio. It seemed that it will cost me a whopping RM$180 to change the battery which included the battery and the rubber seal. I said, “What!? RM$180!?” Now that was really too much! So I asked them not to do the replacement and to return the watch back to me.

Terrible! RM$180 is such a rip off! Better to buy a new watch then to replace the battery. Mind you, the cost disparity is just way too much. Most battery replacement just cost between RM$8 to RM$15 depending on the type of battery used.

I guess buying a solar powered watch was a bad idea. They also said the batteries for Casio watches that can last for 10 years was also quite expensive to replace. Though they have no idea of the price, but based on the Tough Solar watches type, I guess it would not be any different in the cost replacement department.

Well, I still needed a digital watch for my exercises. I needed one that has large digits for easy viewing and backlighting, since I do most of my exercises during late evenings when the skylight is dim and with the sun is setting over the horizon. Plus the fact that digital watches are much more useful than analogue watches for accurate timing. So I looked around for suitable watch replacement. Looking at the Casio ranges, a lot of sport watches were either tough solar types or the 10 year battery types. There were also a few normal types but I didn’t like their design or their pricing.

So I started looking at other brands like Timex. Well, I like the Timex analogue watches not only for its functions but also their stylish designs. However I didn’t like the digital ones as their design looked rather ugly. Not quite my taste. One thing about Casio digital watches, they really know how to make stylish watches. So next, I looked at a few other brands and finally settled on a simple Nike watch instead.

Nike Watches, it was simple to use and just what I needed.

Well, the Nike watch has a big number, the functions were rather simple. But it had what I needed. Since I have accumulated quite a fair bit of Citibank reward points, I redeemed the Nike watch. However there was no choice as to the style and I had to take the white digital on black background version. After using it for a month, I decided the black background was a bad idea too. It was really difficult to read the numbers even though it was big. So I decided to buy one more from the watch shop with a light background version. At first my wife didn’t like the Nike watch and though it was rather ugly, but after looking at it for awhile, she thought it looked quite alright and decided to take over the black one. So it wasn’t a loss despite having to buy another Nike Watch. Now we are pair when both of us are wearing the Nike watches when we go to the outdoors!

As for my Casio PHYS Tough Solar watch? It still functions; I still left it hanging by the window to absorb enough photons to keep it going. I could use it during the day. For evening exercises and walks, forget it. I shall never again ever purchase any solar powered watches or long lasting battery type watches. Watches that use ordinary battery would definitely be my preferred choice.

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13 Responses to “Casio Tough Solar Watches – not a good idea”

  1. Ryan says:

    wahh…..so late still bloggin??
    anyway, u shud have went for those where it will recharge the battery as u move and go through ur daily life. it also lets u wind it manually. it sort of works by having a mechanism which will wind up a coil as u move ur hands coz there’s like a semi – circle at the back of the watch which will swing up and down and u move. quite reliable but might be hard finding a digital one.

    since u got so many watch, if got any dat u dont wan adi, den give me everything la.

  2. Vincent Lim says:

    The warranty for the watch is 1 year. May be you can check with Casio whether the battery is included in the warranty or not. The battery you have bought together with the watch may has problem or faulty. Write a email to Casio Service Support. Hopefully, Casio will change a new battery for your watch with free of charge.
    I have bought a Casio Tough Solar watch last week. Hope I will not encounter the same issues as you.
    Good luck to you.

  3. Jan says:

    Dear Vincent,

    My warranty already expired. I encountered this battery problem 2~3 years later. That’s why Casio will charge for the battery replacement, and the cost of replacement is so expensive (70% of the price of the watch), I may as well buy a new watch. Since you also bought a tough solar watch, good luck to you too. You probably have trouble free usage for about 3 years or so.
    Cheers!

  4. hh says:

    Hi Jan,

    Came across your blog when I googled about casio solar watch. I just got myself one baby-g from raffles SG last weekend. Getting a bit frustrated with it, as I can’t seem to get it to full charge, and wondering if the batt has any problem.
    Yesterday I put it in my car, under the tinted window which could catch a bit of sunlight under the carpark shade to charge. It showed High when i checked it out after 2 hours. After lunch there was no direct sunlight, I went to pick it up, it showed Medium. I tried to press the backlight button, it showed recovery, but no light. In fact, I haven’t seen it showing backlight since I got it, whether the batt shows H or M.

    Since you have had the Casio solar for few years, would you mind helping to see if this could be a batt problem?

    Thank you.

    p/s: Yeah, I am starting to think this solar powered watch might be a wrong choice :(

  5. Jan says:

    Dear Hui Hui,

    Yes, definitely a battery problem (the “recovery” word is a dead giveaway). Since you just bought it, see if you can claim warranty. Usually batteries are not covered in the warranty but since the replacement is so expensive, they should at least cover it.

    And yes, sorry to disappoint you, solar powered digital watches is a wrong choice, and so is their 10 year battery life watches, because the replacement battery cost a bomb and you may as well buy a new watch.

  6. hh says:

    Dear Jan,

    Finally my watch can function after almost 2 months!

    I had problem sending the watch to Marco (Casio distributor in Msia) thru dealer (which is a watch shop I have transacted with previously) to claim for warranty (I was informed of the warranty card problem after the watch had been with the dealer for 1 month!). Had the Sg seller to send a tourist warranty card over, after which I sent the watch to Marco personally. Yesterday went to collect it myself. Warranty claimed.

    Out of curiousity, I asked the lady how much a solar battery would cost (my watch is using CTL1616 if not mistaken). She replied RM25.50, we could send the watch to them to replace. What a relief to know that.

    Marco website url
    http://www.marco.com.my/Malaysia/index_my.html

  7. rafieadni says:

    hi..
    i just want to buy tough solar protrek series watch. but after reading your all comment it seems that i might cancel to buy that watch and go to normal protrek sries.
    thanks all

  8. Ralph says:

    I experienced the same problem with my Casio Solar watch. i checked the Casio website, http://www.casio.com/home/, to see if they had any solutions. I did not find any. I went to a watch repair shop locally and they suggested for me to contact Casio and order a rechargeable battery, model # CTL1616 by Panasonic, and replace the battery myself which they say was fairly easy. It certainly would save me some money. The parts can be ordered from Pacparts, http://www.pacparts.com/. They are one of two in the country that are authorized to supply parts for Casio. The battery is only $5.00!!! You only pay S/H. So for less than $15 you can have your watch running again for the next 3 or so years. Hope this helps!

  9. Lonnie May says:

    Just before few months…i bought a Casio solar watch…oh!…means, i also have to face these problems…humm:(

  10. lawrence says:

    hey thanks to you guys i just went to pacparts and ordered two batteries, the problem with changing the battery ur self is that u cant use a metal object to pry or remove the dead battery if it touches the inside of the watch that’s the end of the watch, but these batteries usually comes with a plastic tweezers in them to insert the new battery, once inserted u then take a paper clip and bridge two points inside to reset the watch, there are sites online that gives u the whole procedure, one problem though is not to break the rubber seal when removing the back cover, if u pull the cover out to quickly the rubber seal will stretch and wont go back on, remember its been there for years and some are not available anymore, u have to go slow and once ur done replacing the battery u replace the cover with the spring carefully with some synthetic grease, easy, i have opened a few but could never seem to get these batteries under $19 us, u guys are great thanks

  11. astar says:

    This is quite ridiculous to blame it on the watch. As a consumer what did you expect?

    You should have known that the solar panel merely charges a rechargeable lithium battery and all rechargeable batteries will eventually wear out.

    You can complain that the cost is prohibitive but you should not be whining that a replacement is needed after say 3-5 years.

    • Jan says:

      On the contrary, ordinary watches that uses normal batteries are far more lasting. I have 2 Timex watches which are still going on strong after more than 10 years of usage. Straps are gone, and they do make a good desktop timepiece. My other Casio Edifice that uses normal battery is still going on strong after more than 5 years.

      Battery replacement for all of the above watches? RM10 each time every 2 years or so. Compare with say tough solar watches, if the battery knocks out same amount of time, and each time the replacement is at the minimum RM50 to RM100, would it make more economic sense to stick back with watches that uses ordinary batteries?

      Which would you go for?

      As a consumer I would go value for money and normal battery operated watches are value for money. End of case.

  12. Tony says:

    The problem with Casio solar powered watches is documented. It seems the problem lies in a rechargeable battery they decided to use in the watches. Take a look at this forum: http://forums.watchuseek.com/f17/another-tough-solar-panasonic-ctl1616-fails-15423.html

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