One of the most beloved novelty clocks of all time, the cuckoo clock was created by Franz Anton Ketterer in 1730. Ketterer resided in a village in the Black Forest of Germany. Since then, the Black Forest has been synonymous with cuckoo clocks.

Cuckoo clocks have weight-driven movements. The weights, which usually hang below the clock, are often made to appear as part of the design—they are frequently shaped like pinecones, for example. Some antique cuckoo clocks need to be wound daily; others can go eight days between windings.

On the hour, every hour, a door on the clock opens and a figurine pops out as a "cuckoo" sound is made. This noise is produced by wind rushing through two pipes, each creating a different syllable. One "cuckoo" is made for each hour that has passed (one call at one o’clock, two calls at two o’clock, etc.).

There are actually two distinct types of cuckoo clocks, musical and non-musical. Musical clocks include a melody after the "cuckoos" and feature a third weight (non-musical clocks only have two). Some musical variations feature dancers or other figurines that spin to the melody.

Although most people associate cuckoo clocks with birds, many different figurines were used, such as soldiers, monks, and other animals.

In the 1850s, architect Friedrich Eisenlohr designed a cuckoo clock to look like a little house. Inspired by the look-out buildings constructed by railroad workers, this style of clock became known as Bahnhäusle, and it was so well-liked that it is still one of the most commonly used cuckoo clock designs today.

Another style of 19th-century cuckoo clocks was the framed-clock design, which featured a clock face in the middle of a wooden frame, and the space between the two was painted...

Black Forest clockmakers such as Hubert Herr, Gordian Hettich and his son Hermann, and Helmut Kammerer prided themselves on their craftsmanship, so each cuckoo clock was handmade and of the highest quality. To this day, each individual piece of wood in an authentic, high-end Black Forest cuckoo clock is hand-cut and engraved, right down to the shingles on the roof and the ornamental leaves.

Lime tree, also known as Linden tree, was the most common wood used in Black Forest cuckoo clocks. Some clocks were painted but the majority were not, in order to let the wood’s natural coloring shine through.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]

Clockhistory.com

Clockhistory.com

Bill Stoddard's clock history site offers a trove of great reference information on clock and watch makers includin… [read review or visit site]

National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum

Check out this sampling of nautical and maritime items held by the U.K.'s National Maritime Museum and Royal Observ… [read review or visit site]

Dan and Diana's Lux Clock Collection

Dan and Diana's Lux Clock Collection

Dan and Diana Lockett's amazing collection of several hundred novelty Lux clocks made by the Lux Clock Manufacturin… [read review or visit site]

Detex Watchman's Clock Album

Detex Watchman's Clock Album

Philip Haselton's guide to watchmen's time recording equipment. Includes 19th century German portables, 20th centur… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Large Antique Cuckoo Clock Black Forest Fusee G.h.s Striking Gong Bracket ClockStunning Large 21 Inch Antique 19c Black Forest Cuckoo Mantel ClockLarge Black Forest Cuckoo Clock Chalet/music/chimes/dancers/musicians/nrAntique Cuckoo Clock-hand Carved-made In Germany-quail/cuckoo-works-1800s!-l@@k!Black Forest Railroad G K Cuckoo Clock For Parts Repair With Wood Bird Cuckoo Clock (not In Working Order)Antique Gordian Hettich Sohne Ghs Carved Cuckoo Clock 28" 1800'sWater Wheel Musical Cuckoo Clock W DancersAntique Beatiful Black Forest German Inlaid Two Weights Cuckoo Clock With LabelVintage German Wood Cuckoo Clock, Mapsa Edelweiss, Swiss MovementVintage Musical Gm Regula German Cuckoo Wall Clock PartsBlack Forest Musical Cuckoo Clock Oompah Band & Dancers 2 Tunes *needs Repair!Vintage Gm Regula E Schmeckenbecher German Cuckoo Wall Clock Parts RepairAntique Large Ornate German Cuckoo Clock Gk Movement Phs Case Repaired RunsHubert Herr Schmeckenbecker Cuckoo Clock Mfg Parts Or RepairPetite Kuner Musical Baby Deer Kids Goat Cuckoo Clock Black Forest GermanyVintage Rare Hubert Herr Forest Cuckoo Clock GermanyLarge Cuckoo Clock, 8 Day, West Germany, German Made, Runs GoodVintage German Black Forest Cuckoo Hunters Clock ~ Deer Horns Rabbit Bird Guns Black Forest Cuckoo Clock Hand Made Carved Wood Made In Germany Deer ThemeVintage Germany Schmeckecher Cuckoo Clock Regula Dancers & Music Box LohengriniDouble Cuckoo Clock,black Forest,thorens Movement,switzerland,""emperor" Rare Hubert Herr Mantle Cuckoo Clock Triberg Black Forest West Germany WorkingVintage Musical Gm Regula German Cuckoo Wall Clock PartsMusical Cuckoo Clock (kaiserwalzer) Runs, Parts, Needs HelpAnimated W-german Hour Chalet Cuckoo Clock With Dancers & Music BoxVintage Farmer's Daughter/ladder Climbing/eloper Cuckoo Clock GermanyVery Nice Musical 3 Weiight Animated Chalet Cuckoo Clock Works GreatWall Clock Black Forest Cuckoo Clock ,original SchwarzwaldVintage Antique German Cuckoo Clock Regula Movement 8 Day Running Cuckoo Clock 8 Day Made In Germany Regula Unusual Light Colored WoodVintage Black Forest-emil Schmeckbecher 8 Day German Cuckoo ClockGerman Cuckoo Clock With Music And Dancers. For Repair Or PartsCuckoo Clock Bavarian House Chalet Dancers Water Wheel Dog Carved Wood Music Beautiful Vintage Cuckoo Clock - Made In GermanyHubert Herr Black Forest Cuckoo Clock GermanyAntique Cuckoo Clock*****beautiful Vintage 8 Day Original Black Forest Cuckoo Clock*****Cuckoo Clock, Alpen Style, 1 Day, 3 Weight, German Made, Music BoxAntique German Wall Cuckoo Clock Runs Great!Anton Schneider Clock *walnut* Cuckoo Clock *carved Leaves*Vintage Schatz 8- Day Cuckoo Clock, 4 Weights, Black Forest - Works*Vintage German Wooden Electronic Engstler Music Cuckoo Clock Handcrafted Black Forest Cuckoo Clock - Brand New In Original BoxVintage Schmeckenbecher Farmer's Daughter Animated German Cuckoo Coo Coo ClockAntique Railroad Cuckoo Clock For Restoration !!!! No Reserve !!!Cuckoo Clock, 1 Day, German Made, Runs GoodVintage Musical Gm Regula German Cuckoo Wall Clock PartsVtg Schmeckenbecher Black Forest Cuckoo Clock Germany Parts Repair 19" Musical2 - Old 8-day Cuckoo Clocks, Schatz Cuckoo Clock, Regula Clock, German CuckoosOlder German Style Single Weight Cuckoo Style 8 Day Skeleton Wall Clock M & M's Animated Red & Yellow Cuckoo Style Wall Clock Talks & ChimesAntique German Cuckoo Clock Germany Parts Black Forest?Vintage Working German Black Forrest Cuckoo Clock Valentines Heart PendulumVintage German Wooden Chalet Style Cuckoo ClockVtg German Cuckoo Clock Spares Or Repair 60s 70s 50s Retro Medium RegulaVintage Miniature Chalet Cuckoo Clock W/waterwheel GermanyEdwin Jager Cuckoo Clock From Germany.Danbury Mint Black Forest Cuckoo Koo Koo Clock Made In GermanyCuckoo Clock Made In Germany