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In the year 1750, the Cuckoo Clock was first designed and invented in a small snow-covered village called Schönwald.

This took place in the depths of the Black Forest in Germany. They reproduced the Cuckoo-song from the Forest, which also means good luck for the person who hears it, by the clever use of bellows producing two different notes.  The first clock made in the Black Forest dates back as far as 1640. The clocks were sold in summer all over Europe by Clock Peddlars wearing their traditional smocks carrying the clocks in large racks on their back.  Today the wood carvings are still handmade by skilled Masters of the trade as they were almost 300 years ago.

The history of the cuckoo clock goes back to the early 17th century where it was believed to be very good luck to hear the cuckoo bird singing in the forest. So much so, that if one heard the cuckoo call, they would take their wallets out of their pockets and shake them above their heads. The farmers in the Black Forest (South West Germany) used logs to build the clock which housed the lucky call of the Cuckoo bird; and so the cuckoo clock was born! Centuries Later, the famous cuckoo clock is still very popular gracing the homes of countless countries around the globe for its beauty and good luck.

The distinctive cuckoo bird call comes from the 2 bellows within the clock, each featuring a specific tone to make the 2 tone bird call.


DISTINGUISHING FEATURES OF CUCKOO CLOCKS

There are many distinguishing features of cuckoo clocks.  The first being the difference between a mechanical or quartz cuckoo clock.

Mechanical cuckoo clocks require winding either each day or each week.  These are named 1 or 8 day cuckoo clocks.

Quartz cuckoo clocks are battery operated clocks, which require no winding.

Secondly, you can tell the difference between a mechanical or quartz cuckoo clock by the number of doors it has on the front where the cuckoo bird comes out.  Mechanical clocks have one door, where the Quartz have 2 doors.

1 Day Cuckoo Clock

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Mechanical clock that needs winding each day, featuring one door.

8 Day Cuckoo Clock

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Mechanical clock that needs winding once a week featuring one door.

Quartz Cuckoo Clock

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Battery operated clock with double doors that the cuckoo bird comes out.


TRADITIONAL AND MODERN

There are two main styles of cuckoo clocks, one is the traditional carved style and second is the more modern chalet style. Both styles come in 1 day, 8 day or quartz.

The traditional carved cuckoo clocks are generally inspired by nature such as flowers, animals and leaves. A popular traditional cuckoo clock is the hunting scene which features the carved animals such as the stag, pheasant and hare, carved wooden hunting horn, rifles and also the satchel of bullet powder.

On the other hand, the chalet clocks are inspired by the chalets of Southern Germany. They often feature moving characters and parts which tell a story about the Village life in the Black Forest. Some of these characters include moving Clock Pedlars, Clockmakers, Lumberjacks, Woodchoppers and Farriers. The clock often features dancing figurines in traditional German costume as well as moving waterwheel and moving characters to tell a story. A popular Chalet clock is the bell-ringer clock where a lady in a German dirndl pulls the rope and rings the bell in the bell-tower (as per below). 

Traditionally Carved

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Chalet-style

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Hubert Herr Chalet-style cuckoo clock with moving train.

Find out more HERE


We also import specialty cuckoo clocks from Germany, like this beautiful hand-painted modern take on a traditional clock, which will fit with any modern decor.

(Also available in pastel pink HERE.)

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Most Cuckoo Clocks are designed to hang on the wall, however some are also mantel clocks.  Making it easy to move them around when you don't have the option of placing them on a wall.

Shop our full range of Cuckoo Clocks:


INTERESTING FACTS

  • The pine cones that hang from the bottom of the mechanical cuckoo clocks are the mechanism by which the clock works.  You pull the chain, which brings the pine cone to the top of the clock and the weight of the pine cone as it makes its way to the floor because of gravity, is what runs each part.  If the clock has 3 pine cone weights, it will have the clock, music and a turntable, as each pine cone runs each function.
  • Each clock has a code which explains the different items it has.  The 3 most common codes you will find on our cuckoo clocks are:
    • Q = Quartz
    • M = Music
    • T = Turntable (meaning dancers or some sort of figurine that spins on a turntable)
  • All our Quartz clocks have an automatic night off sensor, so when the room gets dark at night, the clock will be silent until the morning when the room receives light again.  The Mechanical clocks have a manual lever you can switch on and off at any time.
  • The entire collection of cuckoo clocks found on our website is sourced only from the best manufacturers in Germany. The German Cuckoo Clock Nest is the largest importer of German Cuckoo clocks in Australia, with new stock arriving throughout the year. Container load shipments allow us to bring the clocks to our customers at the best prices by keeping shipping costs to a minimum. These clocks are test run by the clock-makers in Germany and also tested a second time by our team at the Clock nest ensuring the highest standard of quality control, ultimately providing our customers with the confidence to purchase a prestige and superior clock.

If you have a cuckoo clock you may want to visit our FAQs page on our website HERE for cuckoo clock instructions and trouble-shooting.
Summary
The History of the Cuckoo Clock
Article Name
The History of the Cuckoo Clock
Description
A brief history exploring the cuckoo clock. It's origins and special features.
Author
Publisher Name
German Cuckoo Clock Nest
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