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Just how much can one watch do?

December 11, 2017

Graeme Wuth

The D2 Charlie is the third generation of Garmin’s top tier pilot watch, and its functionality is mind boggling. If you’re wondering what every pilot wants for Christmas – this is it.





Pilot watches are either fashion statements or uber gadgets. The D2 Charlie is definitely the latter. It’s bulky. Although its titanium construction, scratch resistant sapphire lens and customisable watch face are nonetheless stylish in this tech age. But what’s far more impressive is the watch’s endless list of functions.

As a watch for pilots, the D2 Charlie comes with a lifetime access to Garmin’s worldwide airport database from Jeppesen, and that info can be viewed on the watch with the press of button. Select an airport and view METARs, TAFs, frequencies, runways, elevation, distance to the airport, fuel availability and more.

The built in GPS locates your position in seconds, and in the ‘Fly’ function on the watch, the default screens show altitude, track, speed and vertical speed on the first page; bearing, track, distance and ETE to your nearest airport or next waypoint on your flight plan on the second page; a full colour moving map on the third; and UTC time on the fourth. You can add functions, and reorder the screens as you wish. You can also set reminders, such as when to change fuel tanks.

On the moving map, which already shows VFR reference features such as roads, cities, and bodies of water, you can overlay NEXRAD weather radar, navaids, airports, FIR boundaries and more.

Pair the watch with your phone or tablet running Garmin Pilot (you get six months’ free subscription when you get the watch) and you can sync flight plans, waypoints and routes. What’s more, the watch automatically tracks and logs your flights. During takeoff, it detects your aircraft’s rate of climb and automatically initiates the logbook function – recording date, duration, total flight time and route. Then after your flight, it will sync this logbook data via your smartphone to Garmin Connect, flyGarmin and the Garmin Pilot app.

That’s just its pilot specific functions. The D2 Charlie is based on Garmin’s flagship multi-sport watch, the Fenix 5, so it comes with Garmin’s full set of sports/training, fitness and outdoor navigation tools. You can tap into an array of fitness tracking features. Preloaded activity profiles are provided for golfing, swimming, running, biking, hiking, rowing, skiing and more. As with the flight logging, the activities are stored and transferred automatically via Bluetooth to your phone, tablet or computer, and can be view on Garmin Connect. Battery life is up to 12 days in smartwatch mode (depending on settings), and up to 20 hours in GPS mode.

And yes, the watch also tells the time.

You could spend weeks getting to know your watch – good thing I’ve got the December/January holidays to learn mine.

The D2 Charlie Titanium is available for around R13,500, and the standard D2 Charlie, with leather strap, for a little under R11,000. For more information, contact your nearest Garmin dealer.

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