The History of Cuckoo Clocks

by Gregory Burton

The cuckoo clock has been around for centuries, but we still don’t know who exactly created the original model. The first time a clock was recorded of similar account was in the early 1600s, owned by a Prince in Freiberg, Germany. However, the cuckoo clocks that we are most familiar with today originated in the Black Forest region of Germany many years later. And it wasn’t until the 18th century that the mechanics to produce the cuckoo call were first manufactured. Want to learn more? Read on to learn about these fascinating clocks that we still greatly admire today.

The First Cuckoo Clock

The history dates back far beyond what is written, so it’s unknown who really created the first cuckoo clock. The clock dates beyond clockmaking in the Black Forest region with references in books dating back to early 1650s. However, it’s believed that the first Black Forest region cuckoo clock was crafted by Franz Anton Ketterer who was inspired by the church organ. He started incorporating similar sounds into clocks and the cuckoo clock as we know it was born. Mass production of the clock didn’t take place until the late 17th century when many farmers in the Black Forest region started using logs from the forest there to build these clocks to provide income during the cold winter months. The technique became standard to all Black Forest cuckoo clocks, with the same methods still being used today.

Highly Skilled Craft Passed Down For Generations

These intricate clocks have always been made by highly skilled clockmakers. Even today, modern cuckoo clock makers dedicate their lives to the craft. Most of these clocks are still made in the Black Forest Region using the same techniques passed down generation to generation. And just like it was done in the 17th century, entire teams work together to put one clock together piece by piece.

The Cuckoo Clock Evolution

The mechanism and overall functionality have not changed since the 17th century. However, the case design has evolved over time. You can spot a “Traditional” cuckoo clock by the wildlife and nature scenes carved into the cases. The “Chalet” style clock uses animated characters such as the woodpecker, beer steins and bell ringers. And believe it or not, the first clocks didn’t actually ‘coo’ - it wasn’t until the 18th century that the mechanism to produce the cuckoo clock was created.

Today’s Options

Today, battery-powered quartz clocks have become available. However, they do not have a gong chime and only call on the full hour. Original cuckoo clocks, on the other hand, have two kinds of movements – one-day and eight-day.

Looking for an authentic German Black Forest cuckoo clock? Come visit us at Frankenmuth Clock Company. We have a wonderful selection of clocks for you to view and purchase. Plus, we’re your one-stop clock shop for all things clock related. So if you need new parts or a repair, we can help with that too. Come visit us today or browse though our website today!