Ultimate Guide to German Cuckoo Clocks
Cuckoo Clock Information
As beautiful as German cuckoo clocks are, they do require proper maintenance in order to remain in good working order. This includes cleaning clocks regularly and understanding how to properly wind them. If you take good care of your clock, it will be sure to last you for years to come.
Before making your decision, there is also plenty of information that will help guide you in the right direction. This includes info regarding price, various clock elements, installation requirements, sound options, and more.
Here is all the information you will need to make the right decision as well as important information about maintaining your German cuckoo clock so that it will remain in your family for generations.
We only work with the best manufacturers in Germany to sell you fully authenic, Black Forest cuckoo clocks. In particular, there are six manufacturers that we know and trust to produce these clocks. They are: Anton Schneider, Hekas, Hönes, Hubert Herr, Rombach & Haas, and Trenkle Uhren. Purchasing a clock from these manufacturers also comes with the esteemed VDS certificate of authenticity.
Do keep in mind that quartz movement clocks do not come with a VDS certificate, as they do not meet the requirements for this certification. VDS clocks must have a mechanical clock movement, which quartz movement clocks do not. Additionally, VDS certified clocks must also be produced in the Black Forest region.
Before discussing the various elements you can choose from when selecting a cuckoo clock, it is important to understand the pricing of these clocks. More detailed clocks will obviously have a higher price than simple clocks. There are some general guidelines to keep in mind that will help you select a clock that is in your budget. No matter what clock you choose, you can be sure that it will be totally handmade and of the highest quality.
- 1-day movement clocks are usually less expensive than 8-day movement clocks
- Clocks with musical elements are more expensive than those without. More musical tones or melodies are also more expensive than those with fewer tones or melodies.
- The more carvings there are, the higher the price will be. If the carvings are hand painted and hand carved also means the price will be higher
- Additional hand-carved elements also result in a higher price- such as a roof, cuckoo bird, or clock hands
- The overall number and size of the carved elements will help determine the price
- Clock size- the larger the clock, the higher the price
- Clocks with a night shut-off feature will be more expensive than those without
As you make your decision about which cuckoo clock is right for you, there are several pieces of information to keep in mind. First, it is important to know that there are two main styles of cuckoo clocks which you can choose from- Chalet clocks and Carved clocks.
Chalet clocks feature a carved house- usually a typical German Alpine house. There are also usually additional complications involved with Chalet clocks, such as moving figurines enacting every day life scenarios. These figurines may be dancing, chopping wood, or drinking beer. There are also usually hand-carved animals as part of the scene and additional elements such as water wheels.
Carved cuckoo clocks typically show popular scenes from nature. There are always numerous animals included- such as birds and deer, as well as trees with intricately carved leaves. Sometimes, a hunting scene is depicted.
Mechanical vs. Quartz Movements
There are two types of cuckoo clocks you can purchase- mechanical movement clocks and quartz movement clocks. The difference has to do with whether or not you want to wind your clock in order for it to continue to operate.
Traditional cuckoo clocks feature mechanical clock movements. These movements have to be regularly wound in order for the clock to continue working. You have the option of either a 1-day movement (which must be wound every day) or an 8-day movement (which must be wound once a week). The movements are controlled by weights which are typically in the shape of fir cones. In order for a cuckoo clock to be a genuine Black Forest clock, the movements have to also be produced in the region (in addition to the clock itself).
Quartz movement cuckoo clocks take away the need for winding and are powered by batteries. While these lack the traditional feel of the mechanical movement clocks, they offer an easier way to have a traditional looking clock in the home without the work of having to wind it. You will find that these clocks are just as high of quality as mechanical movement clocks, it is just a matter of preference and cost when determining which type of clock you desire.
The cuckoo call is yet another element that epitomizes the German cuckoo clock. Both mechanical movement and quartz movement clocks will have cuckoo calls, although the production of the sound is different.
In mechanical movement clocks, the cuckoo call is produced by the clock’s movement (a separate weight controls the cuckoo call). Two air chambers produce the distinct call which fill with air and “whistle out” according to the time. In addition to the cuckoo call, most clocks will also have a cuckoo bird that moves or flaps its wings when the call is sounded.
Quartz movement clocks also have a cuckoo call, but the call is produced electronically.
Other Musical Elements
There are numerous other musical elements that a cuckoo clock might have in addition to the cuckoo call. If you purchase a Carved Clock with musical elements, it will likely contain popular German folk songs such as “Edelweiss” or “Der fröhliche Wanderer.” If you purchase a Chalet Clock that features beer drinkers, the clock may play traditional songs such as “In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus” or “Trink, Brüderlein Trink.” Should you purchase an 8-day movement clock, music will play at the top of each hour. 1-day movement clocks will play music at each half hour as well as at the top of each hour.
Quartz movement clocks also feature musical elements and will typically play music at the top of each hour. They can contain up to 12 different melodies, where as mechanical movement clocks typically have two melodies.
Clocks will also feature a varying number of tones (as we mentioned previously, more tones typically result in a higher price, but also a higher quality of sound). Usually there are between 18 and 36 tones.
Many cuckoo clocks will contain at least some moving figurines. These may be animals, dancers, beer drinkers lifting their glasses, wood choppers swinging axes, dancing couples, children, and more. These figurines typically animate and move as music plays. If these figurines are hand carved or hand painted, the price will be higher.
Numerous clocks also feature a moving cuckoo bird in addition to the cuckoo call. The bird may flap its wings or move in and out when the call is sounded.
Types of Wood
The majority of cuckoo clocks that you will find for sale at the Cuckoo Forest are made from Linden wood, which comes from the Linden tree that is local to the Black Forest region where these clocks are produced. Occasionally, Maple wood is used in place of Linden wood.
Night Shut-Off Features
Cuckoo clocks sound every hour or every half hour. During the day, this is a lovely experience. However, many people prefer to have quiet during the night. This is especially important if you have young children who are light sleepers. If you sleep in listening range of your cuckoo clock, you likely want to purchase a clock that has a night shut-off feature.
There are two main options for shutting off the sound at night. The first is a manual shut-off, which you must activate each night by turning a lever that quiets the clock. The other type is an automatic shut-off, which is much more convenient. With this feature, you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn the lever each night.
You have to be very careful when shipping a cuckoo clock, as you do not want to damage the various elements of the clock, such as the chains or the figurines. When shipping, first remove the pendulum. Always make sure the clock chains are pulled up and secure them with a piece of string. You do not want the chains to get twisted or for them to fall off of the inner wheels. Additionally, place a piece of paper in the spiral gong of the clock. Be sure to add a lot of padding (such as newspapers) to secure the clock in place in the shipment box. Do not use small packing elements like peanuts as they could get stuck inside the clock.
Place the clock and the wrapped pendulum in a box. Most of the time, you will not need to ship your weights with the clock (unless you are shipping the clock to a friend). If shipping back to the store for service, include your personal information such as your name, address, email address, and phone number.
Be sure to consult your user manual when installing your new cuckoo clock. Keep the box your clock arrived in in case you ever need to use it to ship your clock back. There are a few main points to keep in mind when installing your clock, but always consult your manual before beginning the installation process.
First, it is important that you select a secure wall to mount your clock on. Authentic cuckoo clocks can weigh a significant amount, so be sure to find a solid stud in the wall and use that for mounting. You also need to have plenty of space (several feet) below your clock in order to have room for your chains and weights to hang freely. Make sure that you do not turn your clock upside down. This can cause your chains to fall off of the wheels of the clock.
Warranty and Caring for Your Clock
All of our Black Forest clocks come with a 24-month warranty for mechanical parts. It is rare to experience an issue with your clock, but should a problem arise, we will work with you to solve the problem and get your clock back to perfect working order.
To ensure your clock runs for a long time, it is best to have regular maintenance performed on the clock every 5 years or so. This will only help to preserve and extend the life of your clock. Having your clock professionally cleaned and oiled will ensure your clock lasts for generations. The mechanical movements in your clock are meant to last around 30 years, and potentially more if you keep up with regular maintenance. On your end, you can help preserve the life of your clock by not exposing it to extreme temperatures (either hot or cold). Keep your clock indoors and away from dusty or humid conditions.
Should you ever need new parts, you can come back to our website or to the website of your clock’s manufacturer. You may also consider going to a website such as timesavers.com which specializes in clock parts.