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Buyer's Guide

"To 'cuc' or to 'koo'? - That is the question"

Your guide to picking the right cuckoo clock...

More or less everyone knows that Swiss and German cuckoo clocks come in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes.  However, not everyone knows that beyond the look and design there are a few choices you need to make when considering purchasing a cuckoo clock.  Buying the right cuckoo clock for you or as a gift can be confusing, so let us help guide you in the right direction.

Let us being with defining some terms:

Eight-day movement.  One-day movement.  Quartz movement.  What is the difference?

Well, to put it simply there are basically two types of movements for traditional cuckoo clocks. The eight-day movement only needs to be wound roughly once a week (or once every eight days). However, the one-day movement clock will run approximately 30 hours before requiring winding (or once every day).

Generally you can recognize a clock with eight-day movement by the larger pine cones (weights) it has compared to a one-day movement clock.

As a general note, be aware you hang the clock high enough (about 6-1/2 feet high), otherwise the cone weights will reach the floor and you have to wind it more frequently.

What does that mean for me? Which type of movement is best?

It depends on your situation and where you intend on hanging your clock. However, on the whole if you are putting your cuckoo clock in a place where you won't be every day, you might want to go with an eight-day clock, so you don't have to reset the clock every time you aren't able to wind it. Usually eight-day clocks are more expensive than one-day clocks, because of the bigger movement, moving pieces, and they tend to be more intricately crafted as well.

So if you don't mind winding your cuckoo clock once a day, a one-day movement is a good choice and will be a little cheaper generally speaking, otherwise an eight-day movement is the way to go.

So is it difficult to wind a cuckoo clock?

Thankfully, it is actually a very simple process and literally only takes a couple seconds. Simply pull smoothly on the little ring on one side of the chain until the pine cones are all the way up to the base of the clock. We recommend that you support the weights for eight-day clocks with one hand, while winding with the other.

What if I don't want to wind a clock at all?

In that case, you will be pleased to hear that you can now purchase battery powered cuckoo clocks that require no winding whatsoever. To see these clocks simply check out our Quartz category on the website.

What are the different styles of cuckoo clocks?

There are basically two main styles: the carved and the chalet style. Carved style cuckoo clocks usually have traditional carvings attached to the case, often themes inspired by nature such as animals and leaves. Chalet style cuckoo clocks look like alpine houses, and often feature moving figurines and animals.

You can get either design in both types of movement (eight or one-day). Additionally, both chalet and carved categories have clocks that play music in addition to the cuckoo and clocks that only cuckoo hence the musical categorizations on our site.

Why do some cuckoo clocks have two pine cones and others have three?

The most authentic Black Forest cuckoo clocks are mechanical clocks (meaning no batteries required). One pine cone drives the time, the second drives the cuckoo bird and cuckoo sound, and if there is a third weight, it will drive the musical movement. So a cuckoo clock with three weights plays music, and often features moving figurines as well.

What if I don't want the clock to sound?

If you don't want the cuckoo sounding through the night, we have a range of clocks available with either a manual or automatic switch to mute the clock at night time. Our musical range of clocks also have a device to switch off any sound they may have. This lever is usually located beneath the base of the cuckoo clock and can be pushed up at any time, day or night, in order to mute the clock. If you really want no sound at all, at any time, we do carry two, purely decorative clocks which have no working cuckoo, cuckoo sound or music.

I notice you have a sub-category called Quarter Call.  What does that refer too?

Most of our clocks cuckoo on the hour. However some, as the name suggests, call every quarter of an hour instead.  The cuckoo will pop out and call a short "cuc" each quarter, rather than a full"cuckoo" on the hour.

So what are my choices again?

To summarize then, other than budget considerations, the main things you have to decide upon are:
  • Do I want to wind the clock once a day, once a week or not at all?
  • Do I want a chalet design, a carved design or a modern design?
  • Do I want a musical clock or simply one that cuckoos?
These are the three most important areas of choice. Once you have decided upon an answer to each of those questions, you can find the right clock for you very easily using the categories and search filters on our store.

How difficult is it to initially setup a cuckoo clock?

It is very simple. Please refer to our Care & Repair page to see setup instructions. The most important thing to remember is to hang it on a strong nail or a screw.  Picture hangers do not work as they won't have the strength necessary to take the weight of the clock.

Why are cuckoo clocks so expensive?

Traditional German cuckoo clocks are still hand crafted to this day, and it takes a lot of skill, years of experience and manpower to make these mechanically-driven wonders of woodwork and engineering. Cuckoo clocks often feature intricate carving work made by German master carvers, which make a cuckoo clock a piece of art rather than a time piece. Something built to last and handed down from generation to generation.

How long do these clocks last?

The movements in these cuckoo clocks are engineered to last at least 30 years.  If you maintain them right, you will be able to pass them down to your children or grandchildren.

Do these clocks require a lot of maintenance?

Not at all! Occasionally dust the clock and carefully clean it on the outside with a damp cloth. Every now and then open the lid in the back and remove dust and any other build up. Get the movement oiled every 3-5 years. That is basically it. Easy!

I want the real thing. How do I recognize an original Black Forest Cuckoo Clock?

All original Black Forest cuckoo clocks carry a certificate of authenticity by the Black Forest Clock Association. 

In order to receive this certificate, a cuckoo clock has to operate mechanically, has to be handmade in the Black Forest, and all major parts have to be from the Black Forest.