Most of you might think that what’s the use of a smartwatch for pilots when you are flying a state-of-the-art piece of technology that costs hundreds of millions of dollars. And, this reminds us of the story of how the US Navy issued Garmin Fenix 3 to all its F-18 pilots way back in 2017. It enabled pilots to read the altimeter more easily as it is more difficult to read in F-18 due to the location of the altimeter screen.
Also navy was concerned that the pilot might also not hear the altitude warning while inside the cockpit due to the flight envelope. Fast forward to today and smartwatches can be an extremely important tool for pilots as using them you can monitor aviation weather, check routes, set alerts for altitude, and a lot more.
And, when you are not flying you can always use your watch to track your morning jogs and workouts. That’s why keeping all your needs in mind we have listed the best smartwatches for pilots that you can buy.
- Pilot Smartwatch Comparison Table
- Best Smartwatches For Pilots
- Affordable Pilot Watch
- Buying Guide
Pilot Smartwatch Comparison Table
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Best Garmin Smartwatch For Pilots
Garmin D2 Delta
Best Smartwatch With Apps For Pilots
Apple Watch Series 6
Best Affordable Pilot Watch
Best Smartwatch For Aviation & Outdoor
Garmin Fenix 6
Best Smartwatches For Pilots In Aviation & Defence Industry
1. Garmin D2 Delta
Garmin smartwatches have come a long way and incorporated several features on their watches that helps pilots to get another set of eyes on the sky. And, Garmin D2 Delta is the best smartwatch for pilots from Garmin. We have several good reasons to back up that statement and the first one being that watch comes with dynamic color mapping which makes navigation more interactive and easy to read.
Moreover, the watch also has weather updates from NEXRAD which ensures that you remain up to date with the latest weather information. Garmin D2 Delta watches for pilots can also alert if you deviate from the course and it gets better as you can connect the watch to avionics on the plane. Besides that, the watch gives crucial aviation weather updates which include METARs and TAFs reports. If you see that the weather is not ideal for the flight then you can plan your route accordingly.
However, to connect the watch with avionics you would need to buy Flight Stream 510 from Garmin for cockpit connectivity. Once the watch is connected to the cockpit it will automatically sync the flight plan along with any changes made to the existing plan.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to buy any separate hardware then you can install Garmin Pilot App on your iOS and Android devices. After that, set up your flight path on the app which would sync automatically to your smartwatch.
Most smartwatches today can automatically detect when you are working out and the same is the case with Garmin D2 Delta but it can also detect when you are flying automatically. As soon as the watch detects that you are climbing 200 feet per minute at a speed of 30 knots and more, it will start recording your flight.
Moreover, using the watch you can keep track of your taxi time. The watch also comes with Direct-To-Navigation. Using that you can get directions for any location that is present in the aeronautical database and you can even change the set airport to the nearest airport location. The watch offers a great battery backup and will last for up to 10 hours with all the features enabled including GPS and will work for 7 days in smartwatch mode.
Outside of the cockpit, this smartwatch can be used for golfing, swimming, running, hiking trekking, or whatever sports and fitness activity you enjoy. This Garmin pilot watch is built like a tank and sports a titanium body which ensures that the watch can be used even in some extreme conditions.
Besides durable build quality, it also comes with Garmin Pay so you won’t need to carry any payment cards or phone as it can be used to make wireless payment anywhere. And, in the post-pandemic world, it is a must-have feature for everyone.
The watch also comes with health tracking features that give you an in-depth analysis of several crucial vitals. Using the watch you can check your blood saturation level along with your heart rate. Also, you get in-depth analysis for your sleep with crucial information like how much light, deep and REM sleep are you getting.
2. Garmin D2 Air
It’s no secret that Garmin makes the best smartwatches for pilots but most of them are quite expensive. And, that’s where Garmin D2 Air comes in, it’s a reasonably priced smartwatch that may not have a titanium body like the expensive Garmin D2 Delta but definitely has all the features a pilot needs.
Like D2 Delta, you can use this watch to log your flying activity, get navigation for any airport, import flight plans using Garmin Pilot apps, METAR, and almost all the features that D2 Delta provides.
However, the main difference between D2 Air and D2 Delta is that it doesn’t come with an interactive map. So while the watch can alert you when you deviate from the course but it won’t show a moving map with your location. Therefore if that’s a must-have feature for you then D2 Delta should be your go-to watch.
Other than that, Garmin D2 Air is perfect for aviation enthusiasts as well as pilots considering it is available at half the price of D2 Delta. It is smaller in size than compared to other Garmin smartwatches that are made for pilots and have almost all the features you would require in the cockpit.
Don’t worry you won’t be missing out on any other Garmin feature such as the ability to download and play music on the smartwatch. Also, you can also track your blood oxygen, heart rate, sleep along with your sports and fitness activities. It can do almost everything that you would expect out of a Garmin watch and also be a pilot smartwatch at the same time.
3. Apple Watch Series 6
Apple has revolutionized the smartwatch industry with its critically acclaimed Apple Watch Series. And it’s definitely worthy of all the praise it gets as it’s truly a multipurpose watch. So it should come as no surprise that it’s also a great smartwatch for pilots.
To convert it into a pilot watch you would need to install the third-party apps through App Store and Apple Watch 6 supports some of the best smartwatch apps for pilots. One such app is Zulu Time as the name suggests it allow you to view both Zulu time and local time at once, you can also view time for other locations using the app.
Another must-have app for Apple Watch users is NRST, it shows you directions to the nearby airport and a dedicated navigation instrument that will guide you to the nearby airport. And, other crucial apps are My Radar (which shows radar images, weather forecasts), Aviation Altimeter For Watch (altimeter dial with digital readout), and Altimeter + ( which gives the ability to measure altitude using GPS, Barometer, or Aster calculations). These are some of the many apps that you can find on the App Store.
We all know pilots should maintain blood oxygen levels above 90% that’s why you will happy to find that the Apple Watch also measures blood oxygen levels. Besides that, it can also measure your heart rate and also take an ECG test allowing you to keep track of crucial vitals anytime, anywhere.
And, if you like listening to music then using Apple Music you would be able to download and play music offline on the watch. Since the watch also offers Bluetooth connectivity you can connect other Bluetooth-enabled earphones and headphones to the watch. It also comes with Apple Pay so you can make contactless payments even if you forget your wallet at your home.
Overall, we would say it is one best smartwatches pilots can go for as not only it can be your partner in the air but also on land with features like notification sync, Siri, and more.
4. Garmin Fenix 6
If you want a watch that is tailored made for athletes and also offers some pilot-oriented features then Garmin Fenix 6 will be the perfect watch for the job. It is perfect for those pilots who like to work out as well as play sports.
For outdoor adventurers, who like to go on hike occasionally then Garmin offers 10 hours battery in GPS mode and 14 days battery in smartwatch mode. Or if you are into skiing then the watch comes preloaded with maps for 2000 ski resorts. The watch comes with the PacePro feature which prepares a plan for your run depending on the track so that you don’t run out of energy early on in the marathon.
Also, this smartwatch comes with music support that lets you play and download music from Spotify and Amazon Prime if you have a paid subscription for said services. Moreover, you can also copy MP3 music on the watch itself if you happen to have old music CDs with all your high school music.
Talking about the pilot-oriented features of the app, using the Garmin App Store you would be able to install METAR Analog that will give you weather updates, and display wind speed at the outer ring. You can also install the Avioniq app and you would be able to get the current altitude level, total distance flown, air pressure, sunrise and sunset timing, and more. If you are working for the military then you can also install Cockpit Elevation to set ascent/descent alert as a secondary supplementary aid.
To sum it up, Fenix would be the perfect smartwatch for military pilots and it’s also the latest successor to iconic Fenix 3 given to F/18 pilots. Above all the watch can also track your heart rate, blood oxygen level along with your sleep giving you a holistic view of overall health.
Affordable Pilot Watch
5. Suunto Core
Some pilots prefer a simple watch that doesn’t need to be charged again and again but they also don’t want to own old-fashioned watches. So if you are looking for a reliable and affordable smartwatch for pilots then Suunto Core is the best contender for the job.
The watch comes with a built-in barometer and altimeter sensor, all you gotta do is enter the correct pressure on the watch and it will provide you with an accurate reading of your altitude. It also has a compass sensor so you will have all the data at your disposal in case of an emergency.
Moreover, it is a highly durable tactical watch that is made of robust composite material and the dial is protected by a mineral crystal and aluminum bezels. Also, if you like fishing then the watch can detect sudden changes in atmospheric pressure and alert you beforehand about the potential storm with the storm alert feature when you are alone on the ocean.
Apart from that, it also comes with a dual time zone feature so you can track the time of your arrival and departure airport at once. The watch is also water-resistant up to 30m and can even survive underwater snorkeling up to 10m.
What’s the best part about this watch is you won’t need your phone or app to use any of these features, simply wear the watch and you are good to go. Coming on to the battery life of the watch it uses a replaceable coin cell lithium-ion battery that can last from month to a year depending on your usage.
Things To Consider While Buying Best Smartwatches For Pilots
1. Aviation Features
If you are spending hundreds of dollars buying a smartwatch then ensure it comes with aviation-related features such as automatic flight logging, weather updates, UTC timing, and more. While we are not suggesting that watches are more accurate than the state-of-the-art equipment on your plane but it can definitely make flying more easier if not convenient.
For instance, features such as Zulu time/UTC and local time together on the watch screen can make make your job easier.
2. Other Sports And Health Tracking Features
Just because you have all the features on your aircraft doesn’t mean a smartwatch can’t be of no use to you. Today smartwatches can track your sleep and inform you whether you are well-rested or not for flying the next day. And, some watches even give you tips to help make lifestyle changes like working out or not using your phone before bed so that you can sleep better.
Along with that, you can also track your blood oxygen level, heartbeat per minute anytime anywhere simply using the watch. Furthermore, the watch today can also track your sports activities like running, cycling, golfing, or almost any sports out there. It can motivate you to start playing sports again and avoid living a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, before selecting a smartwatch make sure that it has all the features that you need.
3. Battery Life
Since you are always on the go it is important that the watch offers a good battery life when all the features are being used on the watch. A good pilot smartwatch should at least offer 10 hours of battery life with GPS enabled all the time so that you can log most of your flight activities without needing to stop for a recharge.
Moreover, for day-to-day normal usage, the watch should be able to last for 5-6 days on a single charge. Hence, even if you just want to use a smartwatch just for checking your messages and emails battery life should easily last for days if not weeks.
What Smartwatch Is Best For Pilots?
Garmin D2 Delta is the best smartwatch for pilots as it gets weather updates from NEXRAD, automatically records your flying activities, and can even be connected to the cockpit to download the flight plan on the watch itself.
What Smartwatches Do Military Pilots Wears?
US Navy issued Fenix 3 to all the F-18 pilots in 2017 and following the success, Garmin today makes dedicated smartwatches for pilots namely Garmin D2 Air Aviator and Garmin D2 Delta.
Do Pilots Wear Smartwatches?
Yes, pilots do wear smartwatches as they can provide relevant details on the watch itself such as UTC/Zulu time along with local time, runway orientation, altitude, and more. It is an important tool that can increase your efficiency while flying.
What Are Best The Smartwatch Apps For Pilots?
Some of the best smartwatch apps for pilots are Avioniq for weather updates and wind speed on the outer ring, METAR analog, and Cockpit Elevation to set alerts for ascent/descent.