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Overview of Cuckoo Clocks and Black Forest Clocks

Cuckoo clock knowledge

In the following text we have compiled a lot of interesting information about Black Forest clocks in general and cuckoo clocks in particular. The information will give you a comprehensive insight into how cuckoo clocks work and the differences between the various models.

As Cuckoo-Palace has one of the largest ranges of Black Forest Clocks, this information can also be very helpful when choosing your personal clock. Choose the clock that meets your requirements 100%. Our comfortable search function will also help you.


In the Cuckoo-Palace we have collected clocks from well-known manufacturers of original Black Forest cuckoo clocks and Black Forest clocks for you. You can choose from clocks by the renowned manufacturers Rombach and Haas (Romba), Hubert Herr, Anton Schneider, Hönes, Hekas (Helmut Kammerer) and Trenkle. All manufacturers are members of the VDS (The Black Forest Clocks Association). Each mechanical cuckoo clock is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity which guarantees that the cuckoo clock has been manufactured exclusively in the Black Forest and is exclusively mechanical. In addition, the association has established an extensive network of service partners who guarantee quality service throughout the world.

The movements (1-day, 8-day and quartz movements)

First of all, it is important to know that the Original Black Forest Cuckoo Clock is equipped with a mechanical movement that is wound up. There are two main types. The 1-day movement and the 8-day movement. Both are high quality mechanical movements that are driven by weights (pivots) that hang from the cuckoo clocks. 1-day movements are wound every day and 8-day movements need to be wound every week. The movements come exclusively from Germany, sometimes also from the manufacturer of the cuckoo clock (e.g. Hubert Herr). All movements are characterized by their accuracy, ease of maintenance and long life. Comparable models with 8-day movements are usually more expensive than 1-day movements.

We recommend a cuckoo clock with a mechanical movement. It offers you everything that makes an original Black Forest clock. A unique combination of tradition and modernity, made with heart and soul.

However, there are also cuckoo clocks with quartz movements that run on batteries. Some of the Black Forest cuckoo clock manufacturers have also included quartz clocks in their range, but only to a very limited extent. Today, as in many other industries, you can find copied cheap imports from the Far East. These are almost exclusively quartz clocks, which are in no way comparable to an original Black Forest cuckoo clock. All quartz cuckoo clocks in our shop have the same excellent quality as the mechanical clocks, except for the movement.

Style and Design

There are two basic styles of cuckoo clocks produced by most manufacturers.

The chalet is modelled after a house and represents for example a half-timbered house, a Black Forest house or an Alpine house. Many details and interesting figurines, some of which move, add to the variety of chalets. The roofs are often elaborately covered with shingles.

The other general style of Black Forest cuckoo clocks is the traditional carving. The sometimes very elaborate carvings often depict nature and hunting scenes. Impressive deer heads, beautiful birds, eagles, owls, leaves and many other beautiful details can be found on this traditional Black Forest cuckoo clock.

Cuckoo call

Every mechanical cuckoo clock is equipped with the typical, unmistakable cuckoo call. It is not produced electronically, but mechanically. Technically, the cuckoo call is produced by two bellows that are operated by the mechanical clockwork. Air is pumped into the bellows and blown out through an opening with a whistle. Each of the two bellows produces a part of the cuckoo call (coo-coo).

Some cuckoo clocks have a hand-carved cuckoo. There are even models where the cuckoo beats his wings. In quartz cuckoo clocks, the cuckoo call is generated electronically.

Bei Quarz Kuckucksuhren wird der Ruf elektronisch erzeugt bzw. kommt "vom Band".

Music and melodies

Some mechanical clocks have a built-in music mechanism in addition to the cuckoo call. If it is a mechanical clock, the music is produced by a high-quality brass roller mechanism and has an exquisite sound. The number of voices played by the movement is usually between 18 and 36. Mechanical clocks with music usually play 2 different melodies alternately. These are traditional German songs. The most common songs are "Der fröhliche Wanderer" and "Edelweiss". Cuckoo clocks with beer drinking figures often play "In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus" and "Trink, Brüderlein Trink".

Clocks with an 8-day movement play their melodies on the hour. 1-day movement clocks play music on the hour and half hour. Mechanical cuckoo clocks with music have an additional third weight for the musical movement.

Quartz clocks usually play their melodies every hour and usually have 12 different melodies. In quartz cuckoo clocks, the music is generated electronically.

Dancers / dancing figurines

Very popular with cuckoo clocks are dancing figurines or dancing couples. Therefore, there is a wide range of clocks with dancing figurines. They are almost always placed below the cuckoo and rotate to the music. On 8-day clocks, they dance on the hour; on 1-day clocks, they usually dance on the half hour and on the hour. Dancing figures include dancing couples, children's figures and even Black Forest couples. On higher quality cuckoo clocks, the figurines are usually hand-carved and hand-painted.

Moving figures and elements

Apart from the dancers, there are other elements that can be moved in cuckoo clocks. In the case of chalets, you can often find beer drinkers, wood choppers, wood saws, mill wheels or chimney sweeps, which usually move to the music. But even cuckoo clocks with traditional carvings and nature scenes sometimes have moving elements (e.g. birds). Moving figures add variety and ensure that you can enjoy your cuckoo clock over and over again.

Chime shut off / Night shut off

As a cuckoo clock produces a clearly audible sound at least once every hour, it may be important for you to be able to switch off the sound temporarily. This is possible with many Black Forest Clocks with a built-in night-shutoff. Some of these are manually operated by turning a lever on the case of the cuckoo clock. However, some models also have a convenient automatic night shut-off, which silences the sounds from 8pm to 8am every day.

Type of wood

The different colours of cuckoo clocks are not usually due to the choice of wood. Lime wood is usually used for the carvings, but in some cases maple wood can also be used. Lime wood is especially good for carving.

Price differences

An original Black Forest cuckoo clock is a handmade quality product from Germany. The price levels of the different manufacturers are relatively close to each other.

Price relevant features of an original Black Forest cuckoo clock are e.g:

Clocks with an 8-day movement are usually more expensive than clocks with a 1-day movement. If the cuckoo clock has a musical mechanism, this will also affect the price. The size of the cuckoo clock is also relevant, as it makes the carving more elaborate.

Other relevant features:

  • Number of melodies and voices of the musical mechanism.
  • Number and depth of carvings
  • Dance figures (hand painted, hand carved)
  • Figures / ornaments (number, hand carved, hand painted, movable)
  • Real wood for dial, hands, cuckoo, roof, figurines
  • Night shut-off (manual, automatic)

Warranty / Service / Care

An original Black Forest cuckoo clock is a very high quality product. All mechanical clocks are thoroughly tested by the manufacturer before leaving the factory. All clocks in the 'cuckoo-palace' have a guarantee of 24 months. Years of experience and extreme care in manufacturing ensure that warranty cases are very rare.

The manufacturers recommend that a mechanical cuckoo clock should be taken to a professional clockmaker for maintenance and care every 3-5 years. Oiling and cleaning will prolong the life and accuracy of a cuckoo clock. The clockmaker in your area is usually experienced in the maintenance and care of cuckoo clocks.

If your cuckoo clock is regularly maintained, a life expectancy of over 30 years is realistic. If you need spare parts, a clockmaker will often not be able to help you. In these cases the manufacturer can almost always help you. Of course, we can also help you and contact the manufacturer for you.

In order not to reduce the life of the cuckoo clock, you should only expose the clock to a normal environment (normal room environment). Temperatures below 5°C, high humidity or wetness are not suitable for a cuckoo clock.

Assembling, setting up and shipping a cuckoo clock

Each cuckoo clock comes with assembly and operating instructions. Please read these instructions carefully before unpacking the clock. If you have enough space, we recommend that you keep the original box as this is the best way to ship your cuckoo clock.

The most important thing is this: Once you have removed the small bag underneath the clock containing the chains, never turn the clock upside down as the chains may fall off the wheels. You should choose a nice place in your home to display your new acquisition. As cuckoo clocks are relatively heavy due to their massive construction, a stable wall mounting is necessary. The mounting height should not be too low so that the weights/chains do not touch the floor. Otherwise you will have to wind the clock more often.

To ship a clock, pull on the chains until the hooks are down to the bottom of the box. Put a piece of wire or thread through all the chains as close to the box as possible. Roll the chains in a piece of aluminum foil and secure the bundle with tape, thread or rubber. This will prevent the chains from jumping off the sprockets and getting caught up in the mechanism.

Place a piece of paper in the spring at the back of the box lid. Put the clock in a large cardboard box and stuff it with enough newspaper (do not use polystyrene flakes), then wrap the pendulum. Label it and put it in the box. Do not include the weights. If there are numbers on the weights (275 or 320, etc.), write them on a piece of paper, along with your name, address, telephone number, email address and a description of the problem, and seal the package.