If you're planning to buy a cuckoo clock, one of the things you'll need to consider is whether to choose a manual or battery-powered clock. Originally, all cuckoo clocks were designed with manual movement. In recent years, however, some clockmakers have begun using quartz batteries to automate some of the clock's processes. While both types of cuckoo clocks have the same characteristic cuckoo bird movement and call, there are some key differences between them that you should be ware of.
No Winding Necessary
The fundamental difference between manual and battery-powered cuckoo clocks is that only the former require winding. A one-day manual cuckoo clock, for instance, must be wound at least once every 30 hours to continue keeping time. In comparison, battery-powered cuckoo clocks don't require any winding.
Some people actually enjoy the process of winding their cuckoo clock, in which case a manual model is probably a good choice. And if you don't want to wind it every day, you can always choose a one-week manual clock instead, which requires weekly winding instead of daily.
Another key difference between manual and battery-powered cuckoo clocks is song selection. Generally speaking, battery-powered cuckoo clocks have a greater selection of songs than their manual counterpart. Manual cuckoo clocks generally only have a few songs from which to choose, whereas battery-powered cuckoo clocks often have six or more. Of course, some people only want a single song, in which case a manual model will suffice. But if you're looking for a bigger song selection, you may want to choose a battery-powered cuckoo clock for this reason.
You'll also notice that both manual and battery-powered cuckoo clocks have pendulum weights, which typically resemble pine cones. However, for battery-powered cuckoo clocks, these are strictly aesthetic and serve no functional purpose. They are generally used to keep time for manual clocks. When the pendulum weight drops, it must be wound to continue keeping time. Battery-powered cuckoo clocks, however, perform the time-keeping operation automatically; thus, eliminating the need for pendulum weights. They typically still feature pine cone pendulums, but they are strictly for appearance.
Finally, it's worth mentioning that manual cuckoo clocks typically last longer than battery-powered clocks. A manual cuckoo clock can literally last for generations when properly maintained. Battery-powered cuckoo clocks, on the other hand, usually last for 10 to 20 years, after which they must be repaired or replaced.