Timex Z Cell (Illusion) digital hands

Timex Z Cell (Illusion) digital hands

A fully-working Timex Illusion watch is a thing of beauty and a joy to behold!

Some intricate engineering went into these watches — there are three different Illusion models, here’s the other one of mine.

They are very thin, and in the case of this one, have no screws at all.

The LCD is clipped to the circuitboard top and bottom, and the whole thing (caseback included) is held together by pressure alone.

On top of that, the only control is the crown – this watch has analog time, with day/date AND an alarm and hourly chime. And the crown controls it all, with an intricate set of finely-controlled contacts and pins. Which leads me back to my first sentence.

A working model is amazing; one that’s not working is incredibly frustrating. So many things can stop working on these.

The coil is pretty much exposed once you open the watch and since the module has to be pried out of the case, one wrong move and your coil is toast. On top of that, the control section has to be almost perfectly aligned to enable the watch to be set, or modes to be changed.

The battery is pretty much touching the LCD, so any leakage can be devastating; and sometimes they just stop working for no good reason. Well, there’s always a good reason, but finding it can be close to impossible. All the components are coated with blobs of insulation to avoid accidental shorts, so removing them is a real mission.

But when it’s working, it’s such a good-looking watch. The digital analog display has been done very well (my favourite I think, with the second hand just a small segment that moves incrementally through the seconds. On some digital hands watches, this is a full-sized hand, so telling the time takes more than a glance while you try and work out which is the second hand and the minute hand.

It’s elegant with thin lines; and doesn’t need any more buttons than a single crown to control everything.

The downside is most of them you see for sale are ‘for parts or repair’ and repairing anything on these feels much more difficult than on other digital watches.

If you can find one working (and check with the seller that they can set the time and alarm) for a good price, you’ll love it – it’s a great watch for the office.

Setting instructions

Push the crown in to change between time/alarm. If it’s in alarm mode, it will return to time mode after a few seconds if you don’t do anything.

Pull the crown out to set the time; turn the crown to select second > hour > minute > date > month > day; turn the crown the other way to set. When finished, push the crown in again. Same to set the alarm.

To turn the alarm on, go to alarm mode and turn the crown one way to set/unset the alarm on/off, the other way to set the hourly chime on/off.

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