Garmin D2 Air X10: Health Meets Aviation

A follow-on to the D2 Air, the new X10 takes biometrics and health monitoring to a high level. Weather graphics would make it even better.


I’ve long-term tested every model of Garmin’s D2 aviator watch since the first in 2013, and as reported in the November 2022 issue of Aviation Consumer, of them all the D2 Air was Garmin’s best attempt at an everyday smartwatch that nicely suits aviator athletes. It was just the right size, had a feature set that’s easy to navigate on the fly, good connectivity and best of all, it kept track of SpO2 and heart rate data with built-in pulse ox and heart rate sensors.

The D2 Air lacked voice capability (for some it doesn’t matter, but the feature is standard in other smartwatches, including Apple’s Watch). However, the current-gen $549.99 D2 Air X10 adds voice assistance and on-device calling capability, as well as—more useful for pilots—health monitoring and aviation utilities.

Decent Hardware

The Air X10 has a 43.2 by 12.4 mm chassis, and the specs say the watch fits wrists measuring a circumference of 125 to 190 mm. It’s light and compact, especially compared to the larger flagship D2 Mach 1, weighing 51 grams. The bezel is stainless steel and the lens material is Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3. It’s tough—and I’m not easy on my watches.

The tradeoff to the small stature, however, is a fairly small AMOLED touchscreen display, measuring 1.3 inches in diameter. Hasty fat fingers will occasionally fumble the touch commands, especially in the bumps. The saving grace on the X10 is the lower right bezel key for backing out of a function or botched command. My sense is that the X10’s processor zips along faster than the original Air.

Battery life is acceptable, and if you use the X10 primarily as a smartwatch, Garmin says it will run for around seven days on a full charge—and up to 10 days in battery-saver mode. Expect eight hours endurance when navigating. But for typical piloting (backup navigation, music streaming and measuring SpO2), plan on 20 hours. The Garmin-proprietary charging/data port is on the underside of the watch, below the biometric sensors. I wish the connector was snap in—rather than what seems to be magnetic stick. The battery does top off quickly, though.

Take it or leave it: Garmin added the ability to make and take phone calls from the X10. I use the watch with the Apple iPhone 13 Pro where it proves useful to take calls and see texts when I walk away from the phone in a big hangar, and Bluetooth range is good. The watch has a speaker and microphone that perform well. Audio is clear, the adjustable volume is sufficient and you can use the smartphone’s voice assist to send texts and ask questions through Siri, Google Assistant and Bixby. Garmin reasons that with this capability, you can leave the smartphone in the flight bag, although I’m not sure how many pilots will—naked wrist anxiety—if they’re used to wearing a watch. Maybe stash it in a map pocket and stay connected through the watch. You can of course use the X10 to control the smartphone’s music (Spotify, Amazon and Apple music), and use it to download up to 650 songs. You can’t access email like on an Apple.

Aviate And Navigate

For aircraft with no electrical systems or navigation gear (I’ve used it in gliders and old Cubs on floats), the Air X10 could be used to get where you’re going using a stone simple Direct-to feature. That’s how the first D2 got its name, by the way. It has a preloaded worldwide database accessed by tapping the upper right bezel key and selecting the Fly activity. Once the GPS locks on, you can type the destination identifier for an active waypoint. 

Swipe up or down the screen to access an electronic HSI page with GPS course guidance and a waypoint page with configurable fields for distance, speed, track and so forth. There’s also barometric altitude, plus alerts for configurable altitude and fuel timers with vibration alerts. There’s also a Nearest function for cutting to the chase searching for airports, navaids and even intersections. If you’re a Garmin Pilot app user, the interface with the X10 is fairly rich, with the ability to push flight plans from the app into the watch. It’s accomplished using the Pilot app’s Connext menu and executing a Send-To command.

Perhaps one of the more useful features is the X10’s flight logging capability. It automatically starts tracking flights when it senses the takeoff roll and later transfers the flight (duration, total flight time, route and date) to your logbook. I like that the watch is smart enough to go into flight activity when it senses it’s airborne. 

The X10 has plenty of aeronautical data preloaded, including traffic pattern altitudes, frequencies, runway lengths/orientation and also wind components when the Pilot app is connected. There are also METARs and TAFs selectable by swiping down on the main page, and you can set the weather for your home airfield on the watch’s main face. For this there are three data fields for at-a-glance winds, temperature, ceiling, visibility and temperature. This data comes via Bluetooth from Garmin’s Connect smartphone/tablet app.

Plenty Of Biometrics

There’s competition from good products from Aithre, which has taken cockpit biometrics to a high level with its app (that’s Apple Watch compatible) and SpO2 and O2 supply hardware. Garmin’s X10 has a rich biometric feature set, even if some of it is for reference only, says the legal department, and not to replace a finger pulse oximeter. I think the accuracy (within a point or two of an aviation-focused finger pulse ox) is close enough to avoid hypoxia.

During flying activities, you’ll always have quick-swipe access to the wrist-based pulse oximeter and heart rate data, and you can also view the data on the Pilot app when it’s connected. There’s also respiration and hydration—also useful for flying. Again, accept that wrist-based measurements won’t offer clinical accuracy, and I found that the X10’s heart rate measurements vary slightly from Garmin’s decent-performing chest sensors. In the cockpit, I think the capability is far better than nothing. When cycling, I often backstop the X10 with Garmin’s chest heart rate sensor displayed on an Edge series cycling computer and both always fall within a few points of each other. If you’re real picky, the X10 can connect to just about every Garmin sensor, including a chest sensor and Garmin’s rear-radar cycling tail light/camera.  

One feature I’ve been using on the X10 is the all-day health monitoring utility (this is a smartwatch, after all), which has stress tracking and advanced sleep health monitoring, Body Battery energy monitoring, plus a new Health Snapshot. It generates a two-minute window of key health stats and generates an uploadable report—one way to keep tabs on stress and cardio health.

As a daily fitness tracker and sports watch, I think the X10 brings it. Garmin repurposed the Venu 2 Plus sports watch and added aviation data to the architecture. There are over 25 preloaded outdoor and indoor GPS-based sports apps, plus preset animated workout routines downloadable from Garmin’s Connect app. It’s impressive and useful.  

The X10 comes with a quick-release 20-mm silicone band, available in black or ivory. At $549.99 the D2 Air X10 is priced $50 more than the original D2 Air, and for some the new voice capability could be worth the increase. If you don’t think you’ll use the aviation utilities, the biometrics capability alone makes the X10 a useful and well-executed cockpit sports watch.

For current pricing, updates, and additional information visit

This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Aviation Consumer magazine.

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Larry Anglisano
Larry Anglisano is a regular AVweb contributor and the Editor in Chief of sister publication Aviation Consumer magazine. He's an active land, sea and glider pilot, and has over 30 years experience as an avionics tech.

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  1. The logging function is not perfect like other Garmin avionic equipment. Strangely, despite the logging function set at a low 30 kt, 200 ft/min and good GPS signal, the logging will not engage until well into the flight around 1200 / 1800 feet for a non pressurized aircraft. I was expecting precision here as other metrics are very precise. Otherwise very good watch with excellent battery life.

  2. I bought the first Apple Watch that had oximetry, after not wearing a watch for years. I was disappointed that the oximetry measurements were only on demand and could not be set to be done regularly in flight for monitoring. Also, no alarms for low oximetry over the last few years of use, though I always use oxygen when above 5,000 MSL. But, I am happy with the watch for the other 98% of use. I use a free aviation app called WatchMETAR that shows me the nearest airport METAR on the watch face. I also use the Windy app which can show me radar when I don’t want to pull my phone out of the pocket and start ForeFlight or Garmin Pilot. I don’t think any of the Garmin watches navigation or aviation database functions would be useful to me. I already fly with an iPad Pro 3, a backup iPad Pro, and an iPhone plus panel avionics.

    On the Garmin watch, can one set it to check oximetry every 5 or 10 minutes in flight? I know it uses a lot of battery to check, so assume there is a way to get it to check frequently when needed vs. when not flying. Are there programmable alarms for oximetry on the watch or when using the watch with Garmin Pilot?

  3. I bought the D2 Delta at Oshkosh not long after it first came out, and the only “negative” about it is that it won’t give me any justifiable reason to get the new D2 Air X10. It can handle quite a bit of abuse, and aside from some superficial scratches on the bezel (and bits of paint on the body), it still performs just like on Day 1. Even the glass doesn’t have any scratches. The only real benefit of going to the new model would be for the pulse-ox feature that this model lacks.

  4. I have an iPhone (12 Pro) and many moons ago bought a Samsung Frontier 4 smartwatch IIRC. What I do know, is that it was a waste of several hundred dollars. The best smartwatch for an iPhone is an Apple watch – no question. IDK, but I suspect there are aviation apps in the app store. As far as what you have on the D2 Air X10, I’d rather see any of that on my iPhone or, better still, on my iPad as others suggest. Having said that, I keep looking for any good reason I might buy the D2…..

    So of what use do I see this watch (and perhaps the apple watch), it’s purely the biometrics. And for that, I don’t think you need an aviation specific watch. Now the Garmin D2 Air X10 is likely a great smartwatch and to those that have them – great, but would I buy one, no way. As noted, if I wanted a smartwatch, being in the Apple ecosystem, I’d buy an apple watch. For the record, I don’t have one (I hate the look and actually have a mechanical watch with GMT complication). Everything else I get, in a much bigger aspect and font, on my iPhone.

    I just cannot see the use case where I’d need to look at weather, route, etc on an inch diameter device when I have a perfectly good 6.1″ iPhone in my pocket. Of course YMMV…..