Before you buy a cuckoo clock

Where should I get my clock from?

The cuckoo clock should always originate from the Black Forest, but it can be beneficial to buy from a cuckoo expert located in your home country. If there is ever a warranty issue or repair necessary, shipping the clock to Germany may not be ideal. 

Where are cuckoo clocks made?

Authentic certified clocks are made in the Black Forest region of Germany also known as the Schwarzwald.

What are the major types of cuckoo clocks?

There are two primary types of cuckoo clocks, traditional cuckoo clocks and chalet cuckoo clocks.

How often do the clocks need to be wound?

For an 8-day clock (signified by big weights) you will wind it once per week.  If you have a 1-day clock (smaller weights) you need to wind it once per day. Winding the clocks is very simple and only take a few seconds. I t does not matter at what time of day this is performed. The important thing to remember is to wind the weights before they have dropped so far that they cannot drop any further or hit the floor. If you wait until they stop or are on the floor the clock will stop keeping time.

What other differences are there between a 1-day and 8-day cuckoo clock?

There are few other differences.  An 8-day clock is wound once a week and a 1-day clock is wound once a day.  If your 8-day clock plays music, it will typically have a position for automatic night shut off – something a 1-day clocks will almost never have.  There are rules for cuckoo clocks, but because they are hand carved, there is an exception to every rule.

Why do some cuckoos have 2 weights and some have  3?

If a cuckoo clock has 3 weights it will play music. If a cuckoo has two weights, it will not play music.  An extra weight is required to operate the music box. Each weight separate weight has its own purpose – one runs the clock, one runs the cuckoo, and the third will run the music.

Do all cuckoo calls sound alike?

No – The cuckoo noise is created when a pair of bellows are pumped as the cuckoo bird pops out.  If those bellows are bigger or smaller they will produce a varying cuckoo sound.  Bigger bellows will make deeper call and smaller bellows a higher call.  Different clocks also have different actions. Sometimes the cuckoo is very fast, sometimes slower.  Hand carved means infinite variety.

Can I get a cuckoo if I have cats or children?

Absolutely! It is recommend that you hang the cuckoo clock a little higher than you normally would. You can also hook the base of the chains to the top of the corresponding weight, reducing the length of the chain.  For cats, an 8 day clock has very heavy weights that would be difficult to bat around.  Kids, on the other hand will always want to investigate, especially something as interesting as a cuckoo. It’s a great opportunity to teach responsibility and good cuckoo clock stewardship – but loop the chains just in case.

Where can I get my clock repaired?

A standard local clock shop can usually repair cuckoo clocks, but not every clock shop will.  It is recommended to call before you bring it in and ask if they will service it.  If you know the manufacturer of your clock, you can call and ask if they have any licensed repair centers in the U.S.  If the clock has been treated roughly, it may need a new internal mechanism.  If this is the case, the repair may cost more than the clock is worth – always be sure to get an estimate first!

How much is my cuckoo worth?

If the clock is very old or a rare style, it can be worth quite a bit. This would need to be determined by a reputable antique dealer, preferably one who specializes in clocks.  Something to consider though – unless it is a rare style, newer clocks are generally worth more than older ones.  The reason, is that although the clock is still hand carved with the old world methods, the interior improves as clock technology improves.  A new clock will often have a more precise mechanism than an old cuckoo clock. For most people, the greatest value is handing the clock down and keeping it in the family for generations.

56 thoughts on “Before you buy a cuckoo clock

  1. I recently bought a cuckoo clock from a lady who posted an add for it. It did not have a regular Association of Black Forest Clock stamp on it. It did, however, have a blue, black and gold tag in the box. One one side of the tag it has, Engstler Kuckuckuhren, Seit 1952 around the edge and in the center, ECHTE Handarbeit Handcraved. The other side reads, Original Black Forest Cuckoo Clock and Engstler. I am assuming that Engstler is the manufacturer of the clock. The question is, is this still an authentic black forest clock or an imitation? Thank you for taking the time to answer.

    • Hello Richard, Engstler is indeed a Black Forest cuckoo clock manufacturer, we even carry some of their clocks. Assuming the tag went with the clock originally, I would say it is a Black Forest certified clock and not an imitation.

  2. I just started researching cuckoo clocks as we would like to purchase one. I want to invest in a good clock that could be handed down and was wondering out of the different manufacturers Anton Schneider, Hones etc which companies clocks hold their value the most.
    Also, was reading about master craftsman clocks, which appear to be all hand carved and wanted to know if these type of clocks appreciate more or less than factory clocks.

    • Hi Frank, 2 things here – Usually only very old cuckoo clocks that had some special feature on them have an antique value. The combination of Black Forest cuckoo clocks being popular and the fact that they last so long makes them not rare in general. The other thing is that it is often difficult to tell the difference between older clocks and I’m not sure anyone is cataloging it and keeping track of antique values anyway. To answer your question, Anton Schneider and Hones are both very good and distinguishable. If there was going to be a special appreciation I would think it would be in a “name” clock since they are also hand carved and you will be able to identify them later. Hones and Schneider cuckoo clocks are the 2 main manufacturers we carry in our online store.

  3. Hello I am having trouble identifying my cuckoo clock. Here are some of the details of it.
    It is a 1 day clock that plays music and has an night time silence switch. It is a chalet style and on the bottom of it as well as the box it says Edelweiss Der fröhliche Wanderer SWISS MUSICAL MOVEMENT. I also opened it up and found the following numbers on the clock.
    24-A 1884286
    16921176.
    It has dancing children and waterwheel movement with (what looks like) a deer drinking water (doesn’t move) I bought it at a Second hand store. It is in perfect condition. Can you help me appraise an approx. value?

    • Hello Mike, Identifying cuckoo clocks can be very difficult because many look the same and the manufacturers often don’t go out of their way to brand the finished product. I doubt that it has antique value based on the description. Other than taking it to an antique dealer, your best bet would be comparing it to a similar model and then discounting as necessary. You can see some new cuckoo clocks here as an example:

  4. Hi
    I bought one cuckoo clock from titisee, Black Forest .
    Traditional model with chain

    I am from india
    Can you please pass me
    Authorised distributor number
    I am facing some technical problem.

    Clock is not working
    Before it was working very well
    When I changes the location of clock
    It stopper working

    We have to move pendulum by hand
    And after some time it gets stop
    Please help
    Nitesh GOYAL

  5. Celestine Konrad Azura c52, hand carved Swiss made. These are the words on the movement and the bird carvings of the cuckoo clock. I bought at a flea market. My husband got y
    The clock to keep accurate time but unable to get the sound to work. He replaced the bellows and cleaned the workings. Went to a antique clock repair shop and was told that it was old. Worth about $450. But would cost $300 to fix the sound! We took it to another clock repair and he said that it was made in japan 1950, and not worth fixing??? Do you known anything about this clock with the information I gave you. I can’t find any thing on the clock! Thanks

  6. Hello Herr Fehrenbach,

    I purchased a clock from Germany when we lived there. Now, back in United States, and with young children, we are wishing we had purchased the item that be hung on the wall to collect the clock chains (the name of this I do not recall). Do you sell these or can you direct me on someone/where who does?

    Vielen Dank für Ihre Hilfe.

    Marie

  7. Hey where can I buy a ckucoo clock? I liked Clocks by Hekas… Are they good? To me they look the best… (My opinion) but I never saw them in real life? What’s the price range can I get a good size clock? $400?

    • Hi Daniel, The only place I can recommend is our store :-)
      To answer your questions, Hekas are good clocks. Mostly, you want to look for VdS certified which means it was manufactured in the Black Forest. You can get a good clock at around $200, but it may be smaller or have less features – but the same quality. Before you start, decide on Traditional vs. Chalet, 1-day vs 8-day and music vs no music. Once you know those 3 things, you’ll be off to a great start.

      • I just bought a really nice chalet by hekas from some one and it was brand new in box hung it up and the music would play then after words it would make bad grinding noise so I took apart and saw the gears were barey touching and I losen the screw and put the gears together and tighten it back it would not tighen right and I striped it out and broke the spot were it holds the roller how much is It gonna cost to fix

  8. hi ryan

    My brother-in-law left me a cuckoo clock. I know its old, he purchased it in Brooklyn from a German antique
    dealer in the 1940’s.
    It is in good condition. The bird comes out and chirps. I know it doesn’t run weekly
    I would like to know what to ask for it. I am having a barn sale in Oct.
    Thank you
    Tucky Pincus

    • Hi Tucky, We can’t really answer that question. If it has antique value it could be worth a lot. I would check at blackforestclocks.org if you think it is rare or very old. Otherwise, it’s whatever you think you could get for it at a barn sale.

  9. Hi I have a good friend that just gave me a 8 day clock which he purchased in 1969 in the black forrest of Germany.
    It is hand carved – at the top is a deer (buck) head with antlers. On the left side is a rabbit hanging and on the right side is a pheasant hanging. It has 3 – 2 lb. weights. and on the side of the clock was a paper which reads the following.
    Die Muhle im schwarzwald
    Am Brunnen vor dem tore
    Muss I denn zum Stadtele raus
    3/41
    Do you know what this translates to? value if you might have an idea? Any more history?

    • Hi Dale, We wouldn’t have a collector’s value for you, it would be best to take it to antique dealer. There have been a lot of cuckoo clocks that fit that description and it could be difficult to identify. But it does sound like it’s Black Forest made.

  10. i have 2 genuine cuckoo clocks that need repairing, one is just a cuckoo clock, the other , 2 people go around,
    i would need address to deliver to if you can assist,
    also can send a photo via mobile if you like.
    also, do you buy clocks.
    await your reply.
    best regards
    lyall broughton
    altona meadows 3028

  11. Hi,

    Who makes the me mechanism inside the various brands of genuine Black Forest cuckoo clocks.
    How long will they last and how often should be serviced?

    Thanks!

  12. Hi, the chain in our cuckoo clock that operates the music box has been dislodged from the mechanism. As a result it just falls to the ground with the weight. We have tried to fix it but no luck. Any thoughts on how this can be done. We are based in dubai and do not have access to any repair shops. It will be too expensive to fly it out for repair.

    • Hi Varun, Most clock repair guys could do this rather quickly, but you should really have a someone experienced perform the task. If I can find a video demonstrating the steps, I will post it.

  13. Hi, I bought a cuckoo clock a while back from and antique shop and it worked wonderfully for a long time. The clock parts on the inside say “Made in West Germany. A. Schneider Sohne” so I am assuming it is pretty authentic. The clock is a one day clock so I have to wind it when the chains feed out at the end of the day. Last time I went to wind it back up, I could pull the weights back up with no issue but only one of them would feed out again. Looking at the front of the clock, the left chain will not move down, only up. Both chains are on the gears. Do you have any “do it yourself” tips for getting my clock working again?

    Thanks,

    • Hi Sara, The only do-it-yourself fix I would have is to make sure there are no kinks anywhere in the chain so that all links line up the same and tug lightly on the corresponding weight and see if it resolves it. Also check the night shut-off switch.

  14. I just purchased a clock while on a trip to Germany. We set it up and put it on the wall. The clock part works, but the door for the cuckoo stays open and will not close. When the clock hits the hour nothing happens which I believe is due to the door being open. We have the manual night switch off and I checked the wire inside the box to make sure it is below the piece that holds the cuckoo. Any tips would be appreciated.

    • Hi Marc, I always tell people that if they just purchased the clock to call the place they purchased it from and perhaps return it if there are problems right out of the box. If you just push gently on the door, will it close? Is the cuckoo out? I’m thinking the door might be a symptom and not the cause. I’m assuming you’ve tried moving the night switch to each position again. Can you hear the clock “set” at about 5 minutes before the hour? It sounds like you checked the normal causes, but check out video #2 here just in case: http://www.germanclocksandgifts.com/about-cuckoo-clocks

  15. I bought a Schatz 8 day cuckoo clock in Sydney in 1960. It stopped working recently and a local clock repairer serviced it but after a few days it stopped again . Repairer said “worn out”. I tried to find Schatz on the web to see if I could buy a new movement but couldn’t find them so guess they’re not in business. Would it be possible to buy a different brand of movement which could be used to replace the existing one?

    • Hi Desmond, It is possible to get a new mechanism and have it installed, but a professional cuckoo clock repair center would need to do it. Usually they will have their own source for mechanisms and would order the part for you. Unless the cuckoo clock you have now is rare or has a sentimental value it usually makes more sense to replace the clock – depending on the repair cost.

  16. Hello Bernd, I purchased a Lotscher one day musical clock while in Switzerland last month. It was shipped by the Lotscher company to my home in Colorado USA. The clock and cuckoo mechanisms work perfectly. The music and movements – dancers & waterwheel – do not. The third (musical) chain is stuck at the top of the clock. I removed the weight and lightly tugged on the “winding” side of the chain. There is resistance, however I cannot determine if it’s hung up on something on the inside of the clock or attached to whatever mechanism drives the music and action. I can’t get a good enough view into the interior to see if the chain is caught on something. I sent a note to Lotscher, but haven’t received a response yet. I appreciate any tips you can provide. Thanks!

  17. Dear sirs,

    Next July we Will be in Geneva and Laussane, unfortunately we do not have enough time to visit Germany during this trip to buy a genuine black forest cuckoo clock.

    Is there a place that you can recommend to buy the clock in any of those two places? We are looking for a chalet type clock.

    Thank you

      • Halo Bernd,

        Im sending you this note because we will have a little time to travel from Laussane or Gruyeres in Switzwerland to the Black forest.

        Colude you help us recommending a place to buy the clock in Germany nerby this places? We Liverpool in México and due to customs is very difficult to receive this kind of goods into our country.

        Also we would like to choose our cuckoo personally instad odering online

        Thank you for your kind help

        Gonzalo

  18. Hi, i am planning to buy a cuckoo clock, i am from India, can u mail me the different varieties of clocks u make. Wit regards

  19. I have a cuckoo clock my mother gave me…it is from the 1950s-1960s…possibly 1970s. It has Germany etched on the back and on the inside is stamped RO with the number 28 written. Not really looking to sell it….would like to know worth….but also where to find parts. It is missing one weight and the pendulum. Can you help?

    • Hi Robin, That isn’t enough information to go on to find the manufacturer and I couldn’t really tell you what it is worth – that would be for an antique dealer. I can tell you that since cuckoo clocks from Germany are built so well, it is not rare to have a clock that old or even older. It will probably be difficult to match up the pieces you need for exact looks, but the good news is you don’t need the exact weight or pendulum for the clock to function. Just make sure the weight is the same number of grams.

  20. Hello. My father has recently passed away and we found 4 mini cuckoo clocks, brand new, in the original boxes. They state “Made in Germany”.. What is a fair price to ask for them?

  21. Some clock makers advertise for extra money I can get wood weights. What is the advantage of wood weights and should I pay the extra money for them? Thanks and great website, very helpful.

  22. I just want to write that this information is great. It was simple and easy to understand. This will definately aid me in my purchase of a Cuckoo Cloce.
    Thank you…

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