The southern German states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, along with Germany’s neighbor Austria, have been an important center for European clockmaking since the Renaissance.

Bavaria is home to Augsburg, which was a locus for clockmaking in the 16th and 17th centuries. Baden-Württemberg encloses the Black Forest, the birthplace of the cuckoo clock and Junghans, which at the turn of the 20th century was the largest clockmaker in the world, and Austria has Vienna, where in the 19th century, regulator clocks set standard for accuracy.

The Vienna regulator wall clocks are a particular source of pride for Austrians, and with good reason. Vienna regulator clocks gained such a reputation for accuracy that they were routinely used in public places such as railway stations and post offices.

During the Empire period (1800-1835), Vienna regulator clocks were designed to hang on the wall. They were typically made of wood, which was either polished or gilded. The laterndluhr clocks of this period resembled three boxes—the upper box housed the clock’s movement and was capped by a roof, the clock’s weights dangled in the center of the case, and at the bottom swung the pendulum.

The conservative Biedermeier period (1835-1848) ushered in the dachluhr clocks, which were simpler in style than the ones of just as few years before. The clocks were elegant but rigid in their design, except for the "piecrust" bezels around the clocks’ faces.

The revolution of 1848 expanded the middle class, which made luxuries like regulators more accessible to more people. Newly affluent Viennese embraced revivals of Greek, Renaissance, and Gothic styles—straight cases quickly gave way to ones with wavy, serpentine sides. The ornamentation continued into the 1850s with more finials and fancier woodwork throughout—walnut, cherry, and other veneers replaced the faux-grain finishes of previous periods.

The Vienna regulator wall clocks from about 1870 to 1895 are the most common today. They are also some of the most ornate and beautiful examples of the form. Signatures of these ...

At the turn of the 20th century, the overlapping impulses of Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts ushered in the Jugendstil style. It was a return to the box regulators of almost a century before, but this time the lines were softer, the boxes somehow less boxy. Beveled glass was now the norm, while the hardwoods used for the cases ranged from maple to walnut.

Meanwhile, in the Black Forest of Germany, 18th-century clockmakers were going cuckoo. In 1730, Franz Anton Ketterer started the cuckoo-clock craze when he created the first example of this beloved novelty clock. Since then, the Black Forest has been synonymous with cuckoo clocks, as most antique cuckoo clocks were made there.

Cuckoo clocks have weight-driven movements. Unlike other clocks with weights, the ones in cuckoo clocks are often made to appear as part of the design—they are frequently shaped like pinecones, for example.

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.).

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

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 to the highest standards. To this day, each individual piece of wood from native Lime trees (they are also known as Linden trees) is hand-cut and engraved, right down to the shingles on a clock’s roof and its ornamental leaves.

More sober was the output of Junghans Uhren GmbH, which today is Germany's largest watch and clock manufacturer. Although the company focused in pocket watches and wristwatches in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it collaborated in the 1950s with the Swiss architect, artist, and industrial designer Max Bill on a series of deceptively simple wall clocks for the home and office.

Particularly charming is Bill’s upside-down teardrop-shaped Kitchen Clock, which incorporated a timer into the bottom section of its clean design. Today, institutions from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London have a Junghans/Bill Kitchen Clock in their collections.

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]

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    

Gorgeous 3-weight Quarter Gustav Becker German Wall Clock- Carved Case+ornamentsAntique Vienna Regulator German Wall Clock Movement Parts RepairAntique 19thc Victorian German Junghans Irwin Mahogany & Bronze Bracket ClockAntique Wall Clock Vienna Regulator 19th Century Werner Deponir Xl Heigth 134 CmAntique Late 19thc German Vienna Regulator Clock W/ Art Nouveau Woman PendulumTwo Weight Walnut/ebony Slim Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Movement Restored.Antique German Kienzle 8 Day Chime Wall Clock - Good WorkingLarge Antique German Mantel Table Shelf Clock Junghans RestorationC1890 German Carriage Travel Alarm Clock Wecker Brass Case Drp & Gm NrDouble Weight Wall Clock Movement Twin Weight Vienna Remember Wall Clock SparesDouble Weight Wall Clock Movement Twin Weight Vienna Remember Wall Clock SparesAntique German Wall Clock Case Parts RepairOld Vintage Antique Enamel & Bronze Miniature Clock French ? Austrian ? Antique German Black Forest Cuckoo Clock With Eagle On Top1890 German Junghans Vienna Regulator Wall Clock No ResVienna Regulator Clock Mechanism, Face Plate, Mounting Plate, And PulleyBeautiful Antique German Junghans Wall Clock At 1900Pair Of Antique Vienna Regulator Weight Driven Wall Clock Weights PartsStunning Antique German Vienna Regulator Wall Clock , Remember S/weightVery Large German Cuckoo Clock Lqqk!!!!Antique Gustav Becker Embossed Vienna Regulator Clock Weights 1880 To 1890Antique From Germany Large Gustav Becker Vienna Regulator Wall Clock 1900'sDouble Weight Wall Clock Movement Twin Weight Vienna Regulator Wall Clock OnlyGustav Becker Silesia Clock Movement Vienna RegulatorAntique German Dufa Leipzig Wall Clock Striking Largo Gong Wallclock C1920 DecoVintage Schatz Royal Mariner 8 Days German Mariner Ships Clock Service!Gorgeous, Antique German Wall Clock Quarter Strike Schlenker & Kienzle Movement Beautiful Antique German Junghans Wall Clock With Music And R=a Pendulum At 1900Pristine Howard Miller Westminster Chime Mantle Clock German Movement 630-169Rare And Unique Vintage West German Black Forest Cuckoo Clock Parts Or RepairIgnatz German Flying Ball Antique Clock Horolovar Jerome & CoAntique Twin Weight Wall Clock Slimline Walnut Vienna Wall Clock Rocket CaseVintage Franz Hermle German Wall Clock - Skeleton German Movement ClockAntique Junghans German Pendulum Wall Clock W LeavesSchlagabschaltung German Wooden Musical Cuckoo ClockOlder German Musical Cuckoo Clock With Animated Rocking Squirrels & DancersVintage West German Glass Domed Mantel ClockVienna Regulator Clock PendulumAntique Wall Clock Vienna Regulator 19th Century Xxl Large Clock Height 124 CmVintage Schatz German Royal Mariner Ships Clock Barometer Working !Low Reserve Antique German Hac Vienna Regulator Striking Wall Clock Circa 1900Antique Wall Clock Vienna Regulator 19th Century Xl Large Clock Height 107 CmBeautiful Gustav Becker Oak Wall German Clock GermanyAntique La Fontaine German Royal Bonn Porcelain Ansonia Ny Movement Mantle ClockComplete Very Rare Old Working German 8 Day Anno 1870 Ornate Cuckoo Clock !!!Bandstand 400 Day Anniversary Torsion Sokol Montag German Clock Vintage Schatz Sohne 1000 Day Anniversay Clock 2 Jewel German Mantle Brass 54Antique Single Weight Driven Vienna Regulator Wall Clock - Needs Case Work-runsGerman Style Mystery Brass Elephant Swinging Clock With Skeleton MovementGerman Hamilton Tradition Mantel Clock Westminster Chimes 100% All Original!Huge Antique German Cuckoo Clock...lqqk...for Parts Or RepairVintage Schatz Sohne 1000 Day Anniversay Clock 2 Jewel German Mantle Brass 54Antique1880 Junghans German Regulator Wall ClockBeautiful Antique German Wall Clock With Horse Ornament- 1910 GermanyVintage German Westminster Chime Clock,"mauthe" Wall Clock Exc-a+Vintage Schatz Royal Mariner 8 Day Ship's Bell Clock West German Works 11 JewelsGerman Black Forest Cuckoo Clock Circa 1890-1910Antique Huge Ghs Gordian Hettich & Sohne German Complete Cuckoo Clock RunningRare Vintage Old German Beer ClockClassic Style Antique German Wall Clock- F.h.s Signed Movement- 1910 Germany