How did my kitchen timer turn into a clock?

I have an ordinary kitchen timer that displayed minutes and seconds while counting down from a chosen amount of time. Now it displays time like a clock. The buttons are old and sticky and have been abused, so that promted the change.

How did this happen, exactly?

It has three buttons, one each for minutes and seconds that when pressed at the same time cleared the timer back to zero, and a start/stop button. Removing and replacing the battery changed it back to a normal timer for a short while after the first time it changed, but now even that does nothing. It didn’t even change the (incorrect) time shown on the clock.

My assumption is underneath is a multipurpose circuit board, but how did it change purpose on its own?

I’m confused. If clearing sets the time to zero and it counts down to zero, how do you set the initial time you want to count down from?

it is common for those timers to be multifuntion and include a clock. i have some with a slide switch to choose clock or timer. when the battery gets low or the battery connection bad it often jumps to clock function.

Sorry. The minute and second buttons pressed individually increase the time. Pressed at the same time it resets.

I’m pretty sure johnpost has it.

It will be built using a chip that provides a range of time functions. Such a chip will typically have a set of pins that select the mode. Some products will add a switch to allow you to select the mode, others won’t, and will tie the pin to the appropriate voltage to select the mode wanted.

If the battery starts to fade, most chips will start to behave erratically, and your timer could have suddenly decided that clock mode has been selected. Another thing that can happen is that the internal logic has somehow been glitched into a different state (something that is more common that one might think). Finally the insides of the timer may have got sufficiently filthy that some slightly conductive grime is shorting out the selection (less likely, but does happen.)

Take the batteries out, and put them back again - that will reset the internal logic, and clear any odd state it may have got into. If that doesn’t work, replace the batteries. If that doesn’t work, the solution with the least grief is to bin it and buy a new one. You could try cleaning it out with isopropyl alcohol, but the time and effort is probably not worth it - especially as success is not guaranteed.