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]

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    

Antique Black Forest Carved German Cuckoo Clock Antique German Railroad Cuckoo ClockAntique Victorian German Gustav Becker Wall Clock Weight Driven Vienna RegulatorAntique Junghans German 8 Day Wall Clock~crossed Arrows Mark~ Runs & StrikesGorgeous German Antique Gustav Becker Freeswinger Wall Clock 1900Rare Antique German Brass 400 Day Torsion Mantel Clock Under Dome Marble BaseNice 301/2" Antique G B Gustav Becker Silsia P42 Vienna Regulator Wall Clock N/rAntique-wall-clock- Vienna Regulator 19th Century *gb*silesia *gustav Becker *Rare Authentic Vintage Black Forest German Cuckoo/quail Cuckoo ClockAntique German Cuckoo Clock @ 1920 Rare Style Nice WorkingGerman Rare " Anno 1750 " Saw Tooth Gravity Wall Clock VintageLarge Antique Winterhalder & Hofmeier Napoleon Hat German Mantel Clock - ChimingGorgeous German Antique G.becker Freeswinger Wall Clock Berliner Style 1900Old Gravitation German Wall ClockBlack Forest German Cuckoo Clock Made In Schwarzwald Germany Der Frohliche WandAntique-wall-clock- Vienna Regulator 19th Century ***thomas Haller**Old Animated Musical Woodchopper Sawmill German Black Forest Chalet Cuckoo ClockGerman Animated Blacksmith Musical Cuckoo Clock Jumping Horse & Chimney Sweep Antique English / German Keinzle Westminster Chime Clock Repair Parts Antique German Grand Sonnerie 3 Weight Wall Clock Good Working Order Beautiful Inlaid German Hermle Over Boulle Clock Over 18 Inches High-bell StrikeAntique Mantel Clock German Alarm Clock 19th * Junghans A.de Lambert Liege *Sternreiter German Hand Carved Cuckoo Clock With Eight-day MovementAntique Mantel Clock German Clock Alarm Clock Authentic Black Forest German Day Musical Cuckoo ClockAntique German Keyhole Spring Driven Wall Clock Approx.1900See Video-colorful, Animated, Musical, German Made Cuckoo ClockGerman Vintage Jauch Tripple Chime Wall Clock W/ Beveled Glass 30 3/8" N/rOld German Rare Cuckoo Clock From The Black Forest About 18902 Weight Vienna Regulator Clock Movement & Dial @ 1890 Remember Engraved FancyMatching Pair Of Engraved Weights For Vienna Regulator Clock @ 1900s. Remember?Gorgeous Vintage Fox Grapes And Owl One Day German Black Forest Cuckoo Clock! Antique German Art Nouveau Wooden Regulator Pendulum Wall ClockSuper Cute Shingled Squirrels Hunter One Day German Black Forest Cuckoo Clock! Vintage German Colonial Zeeland Chiming Wall Clock Pendulum Dark Wood Case YqzSuperb German Bracket Clock Walnut Case Ting Tang Quarter MovementM16. German Ra Clock Movement, Etc.,. For Parts Or Repair.Antique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century Vienna Clock *Remember Vienna Weight Regulator Clock Case Only @ 1890 Fancy GoodWest German Cuckoo Clock Project To Repair Or PartsAntique German Gustav Becker Vienna Two-weight Regulator Wall ClockGorgeous Old Working Large German Black Forest Music Dancers Wood Cuckoo Clock!Vintage German Hunter Style 8 Day Cuckoo ClockCarved Antique 22" Jughans 118 Vienna Regulator Wall Clock N/rAntique Mantel Clock German Bracket Clock *westminster Schwebe Anker* Xl ClockAntique Mantel Clock German Bracket Clock *westminster *Vienna Weight Regulator Clock Engraved Pendulum Only @ 1890 Original Remember Large German Black Forest Cuckoo Clock D. HonesWestminster Chime German Wood Mantel Clock, Running Slow Sold For RepairVintage G.m Amgen Eduard Herr Sohne Black Forest Carved Wood German Cuckoo ClockAntique Mantel Clock German Clock Bracket Clock * Westminster With 3 Melodies *No Reserve! Gustav Becker 400 Day German Anniversary Clock RareAntique Austrian Quarter Striking, Figural Mantel Clock & Pend. & Key, Mirrored.Fully Restored Antique Badische Uhrenfabrik Freeswinger German Wall Clock @ 1889Older German Geschutzt Musical Cuckoo Clock With Rotating Fox & Deer For RepairRare Antique Junghans Musical Alarm German Carriage Clock Repairmans PartsGerman Miniature Wall Clock All Original Beautiful & Runs Great!Rare Large Working Deeply Carved Hunter 2 Tune Music Dancers German Cuckoo ClockBreathtaking Old Working German Black Forest Musical Hunter Carved Cuckoo Clock!German 400 Day Anniversary Clock @ Early 1900s Mauch Frick Square Dial