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Cuckoo Clocks

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How to purchase an authentic Black Forest cuckoo clock? A Christkindlmarket Guide

Funny thing nowadays is that the maker of the first Cuckoo Clock is not yet known. It must have been a clockmaker from the  area of southern Germany, but what is known is that the official home  of  the  German cuckoo clock is the Black Forest or in german Schwarzwäld, therefore the name Schwarzwälder Kuckucksuhr.

The Black Forest region, the home of the Cuckoo clocks

The first written documents about the Cuckoo clock are tied to the early 17th century, period when the first description of the modern Cuckoo clock, which belonged to Prince August von Sacsen appeared. If the early 1600s were modern times, then we know that the cuckoo clock is as old as the world. In this time period there are also documents explaining clocks with a singing bird, mechanical organ with several moving or dancing figures, and all of the information leads to the most popular wall clocks in the world. Cuckoo pendulum clocks.

Not only is the coo coo clock a statement piece for every stylish home, but it is also a symbol of tradition, quality, and owning a german one from the craftsmen of the Black Forest area is prestigious as well.

You caught yourself thinking about one singing clock on several occasions, but aren’t yet sure for which one to decide? We will try to ease your decision with these handy tips.

1. Which style of Cuckoo Clock is the right for you?

There is no right or wrong way of choosing the perfect coo coo clock for your home, just follow your heart, and it will tell you which wooden clock is the right one for you. There is an old saying which refers that taste is not to be discussed, and we do not want to do that, just to introduce you to some of the most popular cuckoo clock variations.

 Traditional Cuckoo Clock – (Classic / Carved) – A traditional cuckoo clock is the one that comes first to your mind when you start thinking about one, and it usually appears as a carved wooden clock with scenes from the woods, leaves, birds, or anything else that reminds of the hunters life. Based on the number of details and the precision of the carving the price of this clock can vary. It is a very standard clock that doesn’t have any additional colours apart from the wood that it is made of, but sometimes some hand painted details as flowers might appear.

Chalet Cuckoo Clock – The most sold type of cuckoo wall clock is the chalet style wooden clock. Embodying a typical german house from the Black Forest, and being the one that is the easiest to be adjusted regarding colours and details, this clock is a favorite of many cuckoo clock owners. Having colorful windows and flowers, long porches, or water basins with scenes from daily life, you can pick up your favorite based on the colors of your house, or the favorite animal of your children. If you want to start with a classic, you should go for carved or chalet style cuckoo clock.

Railroad House Cuckoo Clock – this famous cuckoo clock style is something between carved and traditional chalet cuckoo clock. The Railroad or Bahnhäusle clock was an award winning style in the 19th century. What makes it similar to the carved clock are all the tiny details as it represents a facade of a train station, and it looks like a chalet but tends to be less colorful, and puts the accent on the color of the wood.

Antique / Vintage Cuckoo Clock – as in everything else in life, the older it is the more value it possesses, finding an antique piece of a wooden Black Forest clock is very hard, or ultra expensive. That is why many of the german craftsmen are reproducing older versions of iconic cuckoo clocks. Some of them go far beyond the usual carved or chalet clock, as they are made from various types of woods. Probably vintage style cuckoo clock should be on your bucket list in the later stage of your collection.

Modern Art Cuckoo Clock – with the start of the new era or the 21st century the demand for cuckoo clock didn’t fall, but it got adjusted a little bit as many collectors started asking for more contemporary pieces, that would fit their minimalistic homes and spaces, based on different shapes and including other colours which are not necessarily the typical colors of the coo coo clock, but rather brighter ones. The movement of these clocks is still mechanical, just the “outfit” got a bit different. If you really want a cuckoo clock, but you aren’t sure that the traditional one will fit your space, then this is the option for you.

Quartz (electronic) Cuckoo Clock – this type of clock is also coming as a result of the new era of cuckoo clocks, the design has stayed the same, but the movement is different, not mechanical, but rather battery driven. Externally you can’t tell the difference, but if you have a sharp ear you could hear that the movement sound is not that “natural”, because for some of them the sound is tape recorded.

2. Every Cuckoo Clock brings a different story

Once you’ve decided on the style, there is even harder part, every clock tell own story, maybe you can find your personal on some of the designs or maybe you will find a clock that brings specific theme which reminds you of someone and that is a perfect sign, that will tell you a german wooden clock is also perfect as a gift. Some of the clocks might remind you of childhood at your granny’s or her flower garden, because they look like a little flower paradise. Others are celebrating the happy beer drinkers, from the southern part of Germany,  that cheerfully sip from the pint every hour and can improve a dull day.

Since the chalet coo coo clocks represent typical houses from the Black Forest, some of them with a farm or adjoining houses, farm houses and animals around the porch are not a rare sight either. Your task is just to find or develop your story around the clock.

3. Features and functionalities of your cuckoo clock

●    Cuckoo Clock 1-day vs. 8-day Movement

When it comes to the more technical part of the clock, the main dilemma is whether to buy 1-day movement or 8-day movement wooden german clock. Both of the clock types are of high quality movement, the difference is whether you have to wind it up once per day or once per week. Lucky factor is that the time of the day for winding the clock doesn’t matter. The important part is to wind the clock before the weights drop to the furthest point. The movements for the German cuckoo clocks are also made in Germany, and that is what makes them extra special. Whichever movement you choose you can create a ritual around it, as the experienced owners are doing.  

●    Music and Dancer options within a Cuckoo Clock

Owning a Cuckoo Clock produced in the Black Forest is already something special, but owning a music cuckoo clock is out of this world special. The theme songs  that are usually accompanying the clock come are  – “Edelweiss”, the classic from the Movie “The Sound of Music”. Who would not like to wake up to the lovely sound of a melody that is so lovely:

                                    “Edelweiss, edelweiss, every morning you greet me,
                        small and white, clean and bright  you look happy to meet  me”

Instant mood booster. The other very typical music cuckoo clock melody is “The Happy Wanderer”, a song so gentle and inviting for a next adventure. Valderi, Valderaaaa.
Some of the music clocks also come with dancer options. The little precisely carved and painted dolls, are making synchronized movement, while the music is playing. Such a pleasurable sight.

●    Cuckoo Clock Complications (Details)

In the clock making industry and generally in the horology, a complication represents a feature of a mechanical timepiece, that is not one of the simple ones as the display of hours, minutes and second, these three belong to the simple movement. Most common complications are the one showing days of the week, alarms or automatic winding mechanism. In order to include a day display, a clock might include about 250 parts, so the more complicated a clock is, the more the price is raising. Some of the “big complicators” or the “grandes complications” clocks include more than 1000 additional pieces.

●    Cuckoo Clock Carving Details


The title German Craftsman can’t be earned by chance, it is dedicated to only proven handy people that also have the eye for beauty. Sometimes at first sight two cuckoo clock models might seem the same, but when you take a closer look, especially at traditionally carved clocks, it  is noticeable that the beauty lies in the details. On some clock there is a bird, but on others you can actually recognize which bird it is thanks to the carvings and the perfect finish. Some clocks have huge leaves, others have tens of tiny leaves around the whole clock, hanging on a tiny breach, which was finished to  perfection. In this case the more the merrier would suggest that the price will go up.

●    Clock Size and Weight

 The size and the weight clock are largely determined by the movement type (1-day or 8-day movement) , the number of complications and all the other figures and details a clock contains.
The size of a cuckoo clock is measured from very top to bottom, excluding the weight. Cuckoo clocks with 8-day movement  are usually larger because the mechanic for the movement tends to need more space than 1-day movement. This is also the reason why cuckoo clocks can’t have both movements included. The clock with quartz movement does not need much space, and these can be found in smaller sizes.
The big cuckoo clocks are usually 25” – 30” tall, and around 20” wide, the smaller version are around 13” – 14” tall, and around 10” wide.
The weight of a cuckoo clock varies based on the details and the mechanism the clock has incorporated. More details and wood equals more weight, but also having music option adds on weight. Non musical cuckoo clocks only have 2 weights, one for timekeeping function, the second one for the cuckoo movement and the third one, only present in music coo coo clocks is for the music option available. Heavy cuckoo clocks reach 8lbs.

4. Authenticity of your Cuckoo Clock

In order to protect themselves from  the cheap reproducers of the genuine cuckoo clock, the german cuckoo craftsmen formed an organization that is issuing a certificate of authenticity, for the clocks produced in the Black Forest region or in the recognized areas in Germany, by real craftsmen. Every authentic clock comes with a VdS label (Verein die Schwarzwalduhr) – The Black Forest Clock association. The association consists of more than 150 members, clock producers, certified dealers and collectors. The VdS seal is a certificate of authenticity, genuinity and symbol for reliable and long-term effectiveness. Important to say is that the quartz clocks are not entitled to this label, even though they are produced in the Black Forest. This is because a high percent of the value of the clock lies in its mechanical movement.

5. Customs and Shipment

The cuckoo clocks are being shipped directly for Germany, so naturally there are customs duties which the buyer needs to take over. But it is good practice to ask the company who is covering the customs charges. At Christkindl LIVE the buyer does not need to worry about taking over the customs duties. Christkindl LIVE is responsible for this. You as a buyer should only create the perfect picture in your head about the cuckoo clock that you want and not worry about anything else.

6. Customer Service

Owning a mechanical clock is challenging and requires some prior knowledge or good customer service. Or both. Starting from the most simple questions like the cuckoo clock not running after unboxing, or repair, through not chiming correctly, through replacing chains and oiling the parts, finishing with things like breaking hands of the cuckoo clock, make sure that your reseller has great customer service that can help you with these questions and issues. Easily accessible help in a form of chat that can provide you instant support would be great. Phone support is another great option. For the first buyers a company with return or moderate return policy is a great choice. Once you are doubting where to buy from, make sure that these kind of details play a role in your final decision.

Cuckoo Cuckoo Happy Shopping!

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