Cuckoo clock

A cuckoo clock is a clock, typically pendulum driven, that strikes the hours using small bellows and pipes that imitate the call of the Common Cuckoo in addition to striking a wire gong. The mechanism to produce the cuckoo call was installed in almost every kind of cuckoo clock since the middle of the eighteenth century and has remained almost without variation until the present.


The design of a cuckoo clock is now conventional. Most are made in the "traditional style" (also known as "carved") or "chalet" to hang on a wall. In the "traditional style" the wooden case is decorated with carved leaves and animals. Most now have an automaton of the bird that appears through a small trap door while the clock is striking. The bird is often made to move while the clock strikes, typically by means of an arm that lifts the back of the carving.

There are two kinds of movements: one-day (30-hour) and eight-day movements. Some have musical movements, and play a tune on a Swiss music box after striking the hours and half-hours. The melody sounds only at full hours in the eight-day clocks and both at full hours and half hours in one-day clocks. Musical cuckoo clocks frequently have other automatisms which move when the music box plays. Today's cuckoo clocks are almost always weight driven, a very few are spring driven. The weights are made of cast iron in a pine cone shape and the "cuc-koo" sound is created by two tiny gedackt (pipes) in the clock, with bellows attached to their tops. The clock's movement activates the bellows to send a puff of air into each pipe alternately when the clock strikes.

In recent years, quartz battery-powered cuckoo clocks have been available. These do not have genuine cuckoo bellows. The cuckoo bird flaps its wings as it calls to the sound of running water in the background. The call is an actual recording of a cuckoo in the wild. During the cuckoo call the double doors open and the cuckoo emerges only at full hour, and they do not have a gong wire. One thing that is unique about the quartz cuckoos is that it has a light sensor, so when you turn your lights off at night, it automatically turns off the cuckoo call. The weights are conventionally cast in the shape of pine cones made of plastic, as well as the cuckoo bird and hands. The pendulum bob is often another carved leaf. The dial is usually small, and typically marked with Roman numerals.


A precursor to the cuckoo clock was the elephant clock invented in 1206 by the Arab inventor, Al-Jazari. It featured a humanoid automaton in the form of a mahout striking a cymbal and a mechanical bird chirping after every hour or half-hour.

The first cuckoo clocks

In 1629, many decades before clockmaking was established in the Black Forest, an Augsburg nobleman by the name of Philipp Hainhofer (1578-1647) penned the first known description of a cuckoo clock. The clock belonged to Prince Flector August von Sachsen.

In a widely known handbook on music, Musurgia Universalis (1650), the scholar Athanasius Kircher describes a mechanical organ with several automated figures, including a mechanical cuckoo. This book contains the first documented description -in words and pictures- of how a mechanical cuckoo works. We must assume that Kircher did not invent the cuckoo mechanism, because this book, like his other works, is a compilation of known facts into a handbook for reference purposes. The engraving clearly shows all the elements of a mechanical cuckoo. The bird automatically opens its beak and moves both its wings and tail. Simultaneously, we hear the call of the cuckoo, created by two organ pipes, tuned to a minor or major third. There is only one fundamental difference from the Black Forest-type cuckoo mechanism: The functions of Kircher's bird are not governed by a count wheel in a strike train; a pinned program barrel synchronizes the movements and sounds of the bird. In 1669 Domenico Martinelli, in his handbook on elementary clocks "Horologi Elementari", suggests using the call of the cuckoo to indicate the hours. Starting at that time the mechanism of the cuckoo clock was known. Any mechanic or clockmaker, who could read Latin or Italian, knew after reading the books that it was feasible to have the cuckoo announce the hours.

Subsequently, cuckoo clocks appeared in regions that had not been known for their clockmaking.

A few decades later, people in the Black Forest started to build cuckoo clocks.

The first cuckoo clocks made in the Black Forest

It is not clear who built the first cuckoo clocks in the Black Forest but there is unanimity that the unusual clock with the bird call very quickly conquered the region. Already by the middle of the eighteenth century, several small clockmaking shops produced cuckoo clocks with wooden gears. So the first Black Forest cuckoo clocks were created between 1740 and 1750. They had hand-painted shields.

It is hard to judge how large the proportion of cuckoo clocks was among the total production of modern movement Black Forest clocks. Based on the proportions of pieces surviving to the present, it must have been a small fraction of the total production. About its murky origins, there are two main fables from the first two chroniclers of Black Forest horology which tell contradicting stories about the origin of the cuckoo clock:

The first is from Father Franz Steyrer, written in his "Geshichte der Schwarzwälder Uhrmacherkunst" (History of Clockmaking in the Black Forest) in 1796. He describes a meeting between two clock peddlers from Furtwangen (Black Forest) who met a travelling Bohemian merchant who sold wooden cuckoo clocks. Both the Furtwangen traders were so excited that they bought one. On bringing it home they copied it and showed their imitation to other Black Forest clock traders. Its popularity grew in the region and more and more clockmakers started producing them. With regard to this chronicle, the historian Adolf Kistner claimed in his book "Die Schwarzwälder Uhr" (The Black Forest Clock) published in 1927, that there is not any Bohemian cuckoo clock in existence to verify the thesis that this clock was used as a sample to copy and produce Black Forest cuckoo clocks. Bohemia had no fundamental clockmaking industry during this period.

The second story is related by another priest, Markus Fidelis Jäck, in a passage from his report "Darstellungen aus der Industrie und des Verkehrs aus dem Schwarzwald" (Description of Industry and Commerce of the Black Forest), (1810): "The cuckoo clock was invented (in 1730) by a clock-master (Franz Anton Ketterer) from Schönwald (Black Forest). This craftsman adorned a clock with a moving bird that announced the hour with the cuckoo-call. The clock-master got the idea of how to make the cuckoo-call from the bellows of a church organ". As time went on, the second version became the more popular, and is the one generally related today. Unfortunately, neither Steyrer nor Jäck quote any sources for their claims, making them unverifiable.

On the other hand R. Dorer pointed out, in 1948, that Franz Anton Ketterer (1734 - 1806) could not have been the inventor of the cuckoo clock in 1730 because he hadn't then been born. Gerd Bender in the most recent edition of the first volume of his work "Die Uhrenmacher des hohen Schwarzwaldes und ihre Werke" (The Clockmakers of the High Black Forest and their Works) (1998) wrote that the cuckoo clock was not native to the Black Forest and also stated that: "There are no traces of the first production line of cuckoo clocks made by Ketterer". Schaaf in "Schwarzwalduhren" (Black Forest Clocks) (1995), provides his own research which leads to the earliest cuckoos being in the "Franken-Niederbayern" area (East of Germany), in the direction of Bohemia (a region of the Czech Republic), which he notes, lends credence to the Steyrer version.

The legend that the cuckoo clock was invented by a clever Black Forest mechanic in 1730 (Franz Anton Ketterer) keeps being told over and over again. But all of this is not true. The cuckoo clock is much older than clockmaking in the Black Forest. As early as 1650 the bird with the distinctive call was part of the reference book knowledge recorded in handbooks. It took nearly a century for the cuckoo clock to find its way to the Black Forest, where for many decades it remained a tiny niche product.

Although the idea of placing a cuckoo bird in a clock did not originate in the Black Forest, it is necessary to emphasize that the cuckoo clock as we know it today, comes from this region located in southwest Germany whose tradition of clockmaking started in the late seventeenth century. The Black Forest people who created the cuckoo clock industry developed it, and still come up with new designs and technical improvements which have made the cuckoo clock a valued work of art all over the world. The cuckoo clock history is linked to the Black Forest.

Even though the functionality of the cuckoo mechanism has remained basically unchanged, the appearance has changed as case designs and clock movements evolved in the Black Forest. In the beginning of the 19th century the now traditional Black Forest clock design, the "Schilduhr" (Shield-clock), was characterized by having a painted flat square wooden face behind which all the clockwork was attached. On top of the square was usually a semicircle of highly decorated wood which contained the door for the cuckoo. There was no cabinet surrounding the clockwork in this model. This design was the most prevalent between the end of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century. These clocks were typically sold from door to door by "Uhrenträger" (Clock-peddlers) who would carry the dials and movements on their backs displayed on huge backpacks.

About the middle of the nineteenth century till the 1870s, cuckoo clocks were also manufactured in the Black Forest type of clock known as "Rahmenuhr" (Framed-clock). As the name suggests, this scarce cuckoo clocks consisted of a picture frame, usually with a typical Black Forest scene painted on a wooden background or a sheet metal, lithography and screen-printing were other techniques used. Other common themes depicted were; hunting, love, family, death, birth, mythology, military and christian religious scenes. The painting was almost always protected by a glass and some models displayed a person or an animal with flirty eyes as well, being operated by a simple mechanism worked by means of the pendulum swinging. Most of them were wall clocks but a few were mantel clocks. The cuckoo normally took part in the scene painted, and would pop out in 3D, as usual, to announce the hour.

During the Victorian era until the twenties and according to the decorative tastes prevailing in each moment, when bourgeoisies began to buy clocks in Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Biedermeier (some models also included a painting of a person or animal with flirty eyes), Art Nouveau cases, etc., cuckoo clocks were made in the same style too. These Black Forest clocks, based on both architectural and home decorative styles, are much rarer than the popular ones looking like gatekeeper-houses (Bahnhäusle style clocks) and they could be mantel, wall or bracket clocks.

But the popular house-shaped Bahnhäusleuhr (Railroad house clock) virtually forced the discontinuation of other designs within a few years.

1850 – The Bahnhäusle clock, a design of the century from Furtwangen

In September 1850, the first director of the Grand Duchy of Baden Clockmakers School in Furtwangen, Robert Gerwig, launched a public competition to submit designs for modern clockcases, which would allow homemade products to attain a professional appearance. Friedrich Eisenlohr (1805-1854), who as an architect had been responsible for creating the buildings along the then new and first railroad line, submitted the most far-reaching design. Eisenlohr enhanced the facade of a standard railroad-guard’s residence, as he had built many of them, with a clock dial. His "Wallclock with shield decorated by ivy vines," (in reality the ornament is grapevines and not ivy) as it is referred to in a surviving, handwritten report from the Clockmakers School from 1851 or 1852, became the prototype of today’s popular Souvenir cuckoo clocks.

Eisenlohr was also up-to-date stylistically. He was inspired by local images; rather than copying them slavishly, he modified them. Contrary to most present-day cuckoo clocks, his case features light, unstained wood and is decorated with symmetrical, flat fretwork ornaments.

Eisenlohr's idea became an instant hit, because the modern design of the Bahnhäusle clock appealed to the decorating tastes of the growing bourgeoisie and thereby tapped into new and growing markets.

Characteristically, the makers of the first Bahnhäusle clocks deviated from Eisenlohr's sketch in only one way: they left out the cuckoo mechanism. Unlike today, the design with the little house was not synonymous with a cuckoo clock in the first years after 1850. This is another indication that at that time cuckoo clocks could not have been an important market segment.

Only in December 1854, Johann Baptist Beha, the best known maker of cuckoo clocks of his time, sold two cuckoo clocks, with an oil paintings on their fronts, to the Furtwangen clock dealer Gordian Hettich, which were described as Bahnhöfle Uhren ("Railroad station" clocks). More than a year later, on January 20, 1856, another respected Furtwangen-based cuckoo clockmaker, Theodor Ketterer, sold one to Joseph Ruff in Glasgow (Scotland, United Kingdom).

Concurrently with Beha and Ketterer, other Black Forest clockmakers must have started to equip Bahnhäusle clocks with cuckoo mechanisms to satisfy the rapidly growing demand for this type of clock. Starting in the mid-1850s there was a real boom in this market.

By 1860, the Bahnhäusle style had started to develop away from its original, “severe” graphic form, and evolve, among other designs, toward the well-known case with three-dimensional woodcarvings, like the "Jagdstück" (Hunt piece, design created in Furtwangen in 1861), a cuckoo clock with carved oak foliage and hunting motives, such as trophy animals, guns and powder pouches.

By 1862 the reputed clockmaker Johann Baptist Beha, started to enhance his richly decorated Bahnhäusle clocks with hands carved from bone and weights cast in the shape of fir cones. Even today this combination of elements is characteristic for cuckoo clocks, although the hands are usually made of wood or plastic, white celluloid was employed in the past too. As for the weights, there was during this second half of the nineteenth century, a few models which featured curious weights cast in the shape of a Gnome.

Only ten years after its invention by Friedrich Eisenlohr, all variations of the house-theme had reached maturity.

There were also Bahnhäusle clocks and its derived manufactured as mantel clocks but not as many as the wall versions.

The basic cuckoo clock of today is the railway-house (Bahnhäusle) form, still with its rich ornamentation, and these are known under the name of "traditional" (or carved); which display carved leaves, birds, deer heads (like the Jagdstück design), other animals, etc. The richly decorated Bahnhäusle clocks have become a symbol of the Black Forest that is instantly understood anywhere in the world.

Even today it is a favourite souvenir of travelers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The centre of production continues to be the Black Forest region of Germany, in the area of Schonach and Titisee-Neustadt, where there are several dozen firms making the whole clock or parts of it.

The cuckoo clock is often wrongly associated with Switzerland, as in the movie The Third Man. In the USA, this error is probably due to a story by Mark Twain in which the hero depicts the Swiss town of Lucerne as the home of cuckoo clocks.

The cuckoo clock became successful and world famous after Friedrich Eisenlohr contributed the Bahnhäusle design to the 1850 competition at the Furtwangen Clockmakers School.

The "Chalet" style, the Swiss contribution

The "Chalet" style originated at the end of the nineteenth century in Switzerland, at that time they were highly valued as Swiss souvenirs.

There are currently three basic styles, according to the different traditional houses depicted: Black Forest chalet, Swiss chalet (with two types the "Brienz" and the "Emmental") and finally the Bavarian chalet. Commonly found in the latter type of clock, is the incorporation of a Swiss music box, the most popular melodies are "The Happy Wanderer" and "Edelweiss" which sound alternately. Along with the common projecting cuckoo bird, this style of clock may also display other types of animated figurines as well, examples include woodcutters, moving beer drinkers and turning water wheels. Some "traditional" style cuckoo clocks feature a music box and dancing figurines as well.

Contemporaries design

Nowadays certain cuckoo clocks are manufactured inspired by contemporary decorative styles, as much in Germany as in other countries, especially Italy. These modern clocks are characterized by its functionalist, minimalist and schematic design.

One of the most usual models presents the silhouette of the typical cuckoo clock with deer head, a bird, or the chalet type but, generally, without any sort of three dimensional woodwork, they only have a flat surface with a gap, or a little door, from which the bird pops out as usual. They are commonly painted in a monochrome way using different tones such as white, black, loud colours, etc.

Likewise there are other avant-garde designs with geometric shapes, such as rhombuses, squares, cubes, circles, rectangles, ovals, etc. Also without carving, these clocks are flat and smooth. Some are painted in a single colour while others are polychromes with abstract or figurative paintings, geometric shapes, multicolour lines and stripes, etc.

Certain manufacturers offer the chance to customize the clock bearing the logo of a company, etc.

Some are quartz and some mechanical.

The cuckoo clock in culture


Since its popularization, from the 1850s on, the cuckoo clock has been a common character in children's literature, comics and cartoons, for educational and/or entertainment purposes. All this is due to children are usually enchanted by the “magic” of a happy bird which lives in a house-shaped clock and pops out to announce the hours. In literature for children examples include:

  • "The Cuckoo Clock", by Mrs. Molesworth and first published in Edinburgh (Scotland, U. K.) in 1877, which is the best-known and one of her most celebrated novels for children.
  • "The Story of a Cuckoo Clock" (1887), by Robina F. Hardy.
  • "The Cuckoo in the Clock", a story by Enid Blyton, first published in the book "Round the Clock Stories" in 1945.
  • "Curly Cobbler and the Cuckoo Clock" (1950), written and illustrated by Margaret Tempest.
  • "The Happy Hollisters", a book series by Andrew E. Svenson whose number twenty-four is "The Happy Hollisters and the Cuckoo Clock Mystery" (1956).
  • "Barnaby's Cuckoo Clock" (Tales of Hopping Wood) (published in 1958), text and illustrations by Rene Cloke.
  • "The Late Cuckoo" (1962), text and art by Louis Slobodkin.
  • "Hildy and the Cuckoo Clock" (1966), by Ruth Christoffer Carlsen, illustrations by Wallace Tripp.
  • "Peter Nick-Nock and the Cuckoo Clock" (1971), authored by Dorothy Edwards, illustrations by Alexy Pendle.
  • "Cuckoo Clock Island" (1974), author; Frances Eagar, art by Ann Strugnell.
  • "The Cuckoo Clock" (1986), by Mary Stolz and Pamela Johnson (illustrator).
  • "Sam Pig and the Cuckoo Clock" (published in 1988), written by Alison Uttley and illustrated by Graham Percy. Etc.
  • "The Cuckoo Clock of Doom" (1995), part of the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine

There is also a novel called "The Cuckoo Clock" (1946) by Milton K. Ozaki.


In poetry can be quoted both two poems and two poetry books with the title “The Cuckoo Clock", which were authored, the first one by the major English poet William Wordsworth between 1836 - 1842, first published in "Poems chiefly of Early and Late Years" (1842), the second one by the American writer and publisher John Chipman Farrar, contained in his booklet "Songs for Parents published in 1921 and finally the poem books by the Scottish poet and writer Andrew Young (1922) and the Irish Shane Leslie's "The Cuckoo Clock and Other Poems" published in 1987.

There are two poems which share the same name too, it is "My Cuckoo Clock", composed by William John Chamberlayne, included in the book of poems "The Enchanted Land" in 1892 and the other one by Robert W. Service, published in the book "Carols of an Old Codger" (1954).


When it comes to the art of music, there is a musical work of the Spanish composer, conductor and violinist Tomás Bretón entitled "El reloj de cuco" (The Cuckoo Clock) (1898), a one-act Comedy Zarzuela divided into three scenes prose, libretto by Manuel de Labra and Enrique Ayuso. Other classical music pieces are;

And the compositions used for piano and string students (or for family entertainment) such as:

  • "The Old Cuckoo Clock", by Nina Batschinskaja, for piano solo.
  • "Cuckoo Clock Piano Duet", by Stuart Young.
  • "The Cuckoo Clock" (2003), composed by Lauren Bernofsky for elementary string orchestra.
  • "The Cuckoo Clock Duet" (2005), by Andy Beck, for 2-part voices and piano.
  • "Cuckoo Clock" (2006), by Deborah Ellis Suarez, piano solo.

In popular music, serve as examples the Christmas carol "The Cuckoo Clock by James Hipkins and contained in the weekly British music journal "The Musical World in 1856, the song "The Cuckoo Clock" (published in April 1909 in “The Ladies' Home Journal), music by Louis R. Dressler and words by William Henry Gardner, the ballad "The Cuckoo Clock" (1916) chanted by Lucy Gates (soprano), and "Cuckoo in the clock" (words by Johnny Mercer and music by Walter Donaldson) recorded by the Glenn Miller orchestra and vocals by Marion Hutton, which became a popular 1939 song in the U. S. To say that the hit was also performed by Johnny Mercer, Bobby Troup, Lena Horne, Sully Mason, Steve Jordan, Mildred Bailey and Martha Tilton.

Years later, in 1962, The Beach Boys released their album "Surfin' Safari" including the theme "Cuckoo Clock". Another example in popular music is Fernando Olvera, the vocalist and leader of the Mexican pop-rock band Maná, who composed one of their most popular and emotive songs “El reloj cucú” (The Cuckoo Clock), from their album “Cuando los ángeles lloran” (1995), nominated for a 1996 Grammy Award for Best Latin Pop Performance.


In the art of sculpture exist two pieces titled "Cuckoo Clock", the first one was cast in bronze in 1991 by the Hungarian sculptor Armand Gilanyi and the second one in Styrofoam and acrylic paint by the American artist Bill Davenport (2005).


With regard to this art the cuckoo clock has been depicted in paintings like; "The Fiddler" (1932), an oil on canvas by the Irish painter Leo Whelan, "Old Samovar and Cuckoo Clock" (1997), a cubist watercolor by the Russian Boris Smirnoff and "The Cuckoo Clock" (2007), oil on canvas painted by the American artist Ann Elizabeth Schlegel.

Graphic arts

In the field of graphic arts, in addition to the illustrators already quoted in the Literature section, it is worth to be mentioned a cuckoo clock plate of the British artist Walter Crane for Mrs. Molesworth's book "The Cuckoo Clock", as well as the pictures created by different illustrators for the various editions of the novel, such as; Charles Copeland (1895), Maria L. Kirk (1914), Florence White Williams (1927), C. E. Brock (1931) and E. H. Shepard for the 1954 edition. Also the print by the American painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell "Courting at Midnight" (1919) display this clock.

On the other hand it has been drawn by cartoonists such as Vahan Shirvanian in his gag cartoon "Cat Hunting in a Cuckoo Clock", Edward McLahlan's "Cuckoo Clock Judge", Dan Reynolds in "Clown's Cuckoo Clock", etc.


As animated cartoon can be seen in series, shorts and feature films (many made during The Golden Age of Hollywood animation) such as:

Based on a composition by the musician Stephen Coates from The Real Tuesday Weld, the animated music video "Bathtime in Clerkenwell" (2003) directed by Alex Budovsky and being about "The Great Revolution of the British Cuckoos taking over London", won the next awards: The Grand Jury Award for the best animated short at Florida Film Festival 2003, The Best of Show Award from ASIFA-East 2003, the 2004 best animated short at Sundance and the 2004 Sundance Online Film Festival Viewers Award in the animation category.

Lately it is used on computer animation with the objective of telling a story, entertaining and/or commercializing a product. As examples are the French short films "Coucou clock" (2005) and "L'engrenage" (2007) or the stories of "Jack the Cuckoo" (2005), awarded with the Best Viral Marketing campaign (2006), in the area of Internet and Multimedia, in the tenth edition of the Italian awards Mediastars, the authoritative national event dedicated to advertising, corporate design and multi-media communications campaigns.


In the drama in two acts "Ganksklukka" (The Cuckoo Clock) (1962), by the Icelandic dramatist, writer and poet Agnar Thórdarson, the author presents a powerful play on the dehumanizing effect of modern life.


As the seventh art, the cuckoo clock (and its variant cuckoo and quail clock) has figured in different movies through the history of cinema. Examples include:

  • "The Cuckoo Clock" (1912), a short film with Edward P. Sullivan, Julia Hurley and Charles Herman.
  • "M" (1931), by Fritz Lang.
  • Laurel and Hardy's short "Dirty Work" (1933), by Lloyd French.
  • "The Third Man" (1949), directed by Carol Reed, in which Harry Lime (played by Orson Welles) said: "You know what the fellow said—in Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." This remark was not in the script by Graham Greene but was added by Welles (in the published script, it is in a footnote); Greene wrote in a letter (Oct. 13, 1977) "What happened was that during the shooting of The Third Man it was found necessary for the timing to insert another sentence." Welles apparently said the lines came from "an old Hungarian play"; the painter Whistler, in a lecture on art from 1885 (published in Mr Whistler's 'Ten O'Clock' [1888]), had said, "The Swiss in their mountains ... What more worthy people! ... yet, the perverse and scornful [goddess, Art] will none of it, and the sons of patriots are left with the clock that turns the mill, and the sudden cuckoo, with difficulty restrained in its box! For this was Tell a hero! For this did Gessler die!" In This is Orson Welles (1993), Welles is quoted as saying "When the picture came out, the Swiss very nicely pointed out to me that they've never made any cuckoo clocks.
  • "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956), a science fiction film directed by Don Siegel.
  • "Lampa" (The Lamp) (1959), a short film by Roman Polanski and one of his earliest works.
  • "The Sound of Music" (1965), by Robert Wise, being part of the popular song "So Long, Farewell".
  • "Bunny Lake Is Missing" (1965), by Otto Preminger.
  • "Blade Runner" (1982), a cult movie directed by Sir Ridley Scott.
  • "Out of Africa" (1985), by Sidney Pollack.
  • "Saraband" (2003), the last film of Ingmar Bergman. Etc.


Regarding to television, this kind of clock is, amongst other TV series, on Alfred Hitchcock Presents "Triggers in Leash" (1955) and "The Cuckoo Clock" (1960) or "Realization Time" (1990) of Twin Peaks.

It appears on children's shows as well, like on The Munsters and the Irish educational series Wanderly Wagon where both featured a sarcastic raven, called Charlie on the first one and Mr. Crow on the second one, living inside a cuckoo clock. Other examples include, The Banana Splits Show where it was a secondary character, two same name episodes entitled "The Cuckoo Clock", the first one on Jackanory (season 10, episodes from 36 to 40, 1971) based on Mrs. Molesworth's novel and the second one on Ivor the Engine (1975), as well as some episodes of Fraggle Rock, like “The Thirty-Minute Work Week” (1983) and Goosebumps "The Cuckoo Clock of Doom" (1995), a Canadian/American horror series for children based on the same name books by R. L. Stine. Sometimes has appeared on commercials, like Mentos or Volkswagen.

On the original The Addams Family TV series, the family has a parody of a cuckoo clock with a lion that comes out and roars the hour.

The Munsters had a clock with a wise-cracking raven instead of a cuckoo that often popped out to squawk "Nevermore!" (in a parody of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven), usually in response to a rhetorical question from one of the Munster family.


Of the largest cuckoo clocks in the world, four of them are located in the Black Forest of Germany; in Höllsteig (Breitnau), Niederwasser (Hornberg), Schonach and Schonachbach (near Triberg). Another one is located in central Germany, specifically in Gernrode (where the "World's Largest Chocolate Cuckoo Clock" was made in 2006) and finally two of them are situated in the west of the country; in Sankt Goar where the world's largest free-hanging cuckoo clock is located and in Wiesbaden.

In America four of them exist as well, two are placed in the United States, in Frankenmuth, Michigan and Wilmot, Ohio, the other two are in Eduardo Castex and Villa Carlos Paz, both in Argentina.

Lastly in Japan, on the island of Hokkaidō, there is another one in Onneyu. Some of them have been awarded with the title of "World's Largest Cuckoo Clock" by the Guinness World Records.

As for the largest indoor cuckoo clocks, in 1986 the disappeared manufacturer Dold built a custom clock for Champ's Clock Shop in Douglasville, Georgia, a bit smaller is the one currently manufactured by the Anton Schneider company. The smallest cuckoo clock in the world is made by the firm Hubert Herr.


  • Schneider, Wilhelm (1985): Zur Entstehungsgeschichte der Kuckucksuhr. In: Alte Uhren, Fascicle 3, pp. 13 - 21.
  • Schneider, Wilhelm (1987): Frühe Kuckucksuhren von Johann Baptist Beha in Eisenbach im Hochschwarzwald. In: Uhren, Fascicle 3, pp. 45 – 53.
  • Mühe, Richard, Kahlert, Helmut and Techen, Beatrice (1988): Kuckucksuhren. München.
  • Schneider, Wilhelm (1988): The cuckoo Clocks of Johann Baptist Beha. In: Antiquarian Horology, Vol. 17, pp. 455 – 462.
  • Schneider, Wilhelm, Schneider, Monika (1988): Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks at the Exhibitions in Philadelphia 1876 and Chicago 1893. In: NAWCC, Vol. 30/2, No. 253, pp. 116 – 127 & pp. 128 - 132.
  • Schneider, Wilhelm (1989): Die eiserne Kuckucksuhr. In: Uhren, 12. Jg., Fascicle 5, pp. 37 – 44.
  • Kahlert, Helmut (2002): Erinnerung an ein geniales Design. 150 Jahre Bahnhäusle-Uhren. In: Klassik-Uhren, F. 4, pp. 26 - 30.
  • Graf, Johannes (2006): The Black Forest Cuckoo Clock. A Success Story. In: NAWCC December Bulletin, pp. 646 - 652.

External links

Bahnhäusle style history article


Museums where to see cuckoo clocks from different times, styles and manufacturers:

  • In Germany, the Deutsches Uhrenmuseum (German Clock and Watch Museum), in Furtwangen (Black Forest).
  • In the United Kingdom, Cuckooland Museum, the only Museum in the world dedicated mainly to the cuckoo clock, in Tabley, Cheshire (England).

Cuckoo Clock Manufacturers

Cuckoo Clock Manufacturers (in alphabetical order):

Cuckoo Clock Distributors

Cuckoo Clock Distributors (in alphabetical order): Europe, Asia, Australia:

United States of America:


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