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Cuckoo Clocks Information & Guide

Cuckoo clocks are one of the most popular items to come from the German Black Forest. With them comes the responsibility of ensuring that they are cleaned and working properly. Proper care of your Black Forest cuckoo clock will ensure that you enjoy it for many years. We have put together several facts of interest about our Black Forest cuckoo clocks and other versions of Black Forest clocks. This section will give you the information and knowledge that you need about the functionality of cuckoo clocks and about the many differences between the various models. Black Forest cuckoo clocks are all hand carved but their beauty is not their only interesting feature. They have many other interesting technical functions that combine their beautiful German handcraftsmanship with traditional German engineering.

Here at the Cuckoo Palace, we offer you one of the largest selections of cuckoo clocks on the internet. If there is a larger selection out there we have not seen it. We hope that you will use this guide to help you select the clock that will bring your family joy for many years.

Manufacturers

The Cuckoo Palace offers original German clocks made by six of the most renowned manufacturers in the world. Their creations of beautiful and authentic Black Forest cuckoo clocks is unsurpassed. These six companies include Rombach & Haas (also known as Romba), Hubert Herr, Anton Schneider, Hönes (known also as Hoenes and Hones), Hekas (or Helmut Kammerer) and Trenkle Uhren. All these manufacturers are members of the Black Forest Clock Association and all their clocks have the certification of the VDS.

The manufacturers receive certification for their traditional methods of creating clocks, as well as for the quality of the pieces that they create. The certificate informs customers that the clocks are genuine German Black Forest creations, that it is operated by a mechanical clock movement and that it has been produced in the Black Forest, including the mechanisms that run the clock itself. In order to be awarded a certificate from the Black Forest Clock Association or VDS, all these requirements must be met. Quartz cuckoo clocks are not included in the VDS certification simply because they fail to meet the requirements of an authentic and traditionally crafted German Black Forest creation.

Clock movements



One thing that makes original Black Forest cuckoo clocks distinct is the mechanical clock movement. These movements must be wound for the clock to continue working. There are basically two different types of clock movements. One is the 1-Day movement and the other is an 8-Day movement. Both types are high quality mechanical clock movements. The difference in the two is that the 1-Day movement clocks must be wound every 24 hours and the 8-Day movement clocks must only be wound once each week. The cuckoo clocks are driven by weights or Fir Cones which hand down from the clock.

The movements for Black Forest cuckoo clocks are made in Germany. Some manufacturers actually create and assemble the movements in their workshops while others add the finished movement mechanisms into their clocks. Hubert Herr is one manufacturer that creates and assembles all the movements completely within the company. All cuckoo clock movements in genuine Black Forest cuckoo clocks are made with the highest quality and are reliable and durable.

We at Cuckoo Palace recommend clocks with mechanical movements because they are the epitome of a genuine Black Forest clock. They offer a unique combination of tradition and modern technology and are handcrafted to represent years of tradition and culture.

Another type of movement found in clocks is the quartz movement. A quartz cuckoo clock runs on battery power. These are not typically found in Original Black Forest clocks although many manufacturers have added quartz clocks to offer a larger variety in their products. Normally copies of cuckoo clocks will contain quartz movement. There are several inexpensive Asian copies of cuckoo clocks with this type of movement, although they could never be compared to the quality and craftsmanship of an original Black Forest clock. All the quartz cuckoo clocks that we offer have a high quality that are comparable to the original mechanical clocks from the Black Forest.

Style and Design

As well as movement types, there are also two main styles of cuckoo clocks and all manufacturers offer both styles.

First is the Chalet style cuckoo clocks. This design varies from a typical Black Forest Germany House to an Alpine and Timbered or Tudor Styled House. There are many details and very interesting movements that characterize the Chalet Cuckoo Clock. The Chalet Cuckoo Clock normally depicts a scene of everyday life. Many have handmade and hand laid shingles on the roofs and feature details such as dancers, beer drinkers and wood choppers as well as beautifully carved animals and turning water wheels.

The other style of cuckoo clocks are the traditionally Carved Cuckoo Clocks. These clocks normally depict scenes of nature or hunting. They have beautifully detailed carved birds, deer, eagles, leaves or owls.

Both styles of Black Forest cuckoo clocks are highly popular and equally loved around the world and both lend a look of elegance and awe inspiring beauty to every home that has one.

Cuckoo Call

Each mechanical cuckoo clock from the Black Forest holds the famous cuckoo call that make them all so unique. The sound of the cuckoo's call is not generated electronically. It is produced completely by the clock's movement. On a technical scale, the sound is created by two air chambers or bellows. Air is filled into the chambers and squeezed out through a type of whistle. The first bellow produces the first syllable of the sound or the "cu" and the second bellow creates the second syllable or the "cukoo".

Many of the original Black Forest cuckoo clocks feature hand carved cuckoo birds. Some models also feature cuckoos that have moving wings when they call.

The cuckoo sound is also included in the quartz movement clocks, although the sound in these models is produced electronically or is tape recorded.

Music and Melodies

Many cuckoo clocks play music as well as featuring the cuckoo sound. Many collectors around the world find the music to be an essential part of their decision to purchase a cuckoo clock. The clocks normally play two different melodies. Many play the German Folk songs "Der fröhliche Wanderer" and "Edelweiss". Chalet styles that feature beer drinkers normally play the songs "In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus" and "Trink, Brüderlein Trink". The musical movement in these styles of cuckoo clocks is very important. Although all musical movements are of the highest quality, the number of tones will vary between 18 and 36. Normally the higher the amount of tones, the better the sound quality will be.

Clocks with 8-Day movements will play music on each hour while clocks with the 1-Day movements will play music on each half hour as well as on the full hour. Musical cuckoo clocks with the quartz movement will normally play music on each hour and will include up to twelve different melodies in each model.

Dancing Figurines / Dancing Couples

Many cuckoo clocks from the Black Forest region feature beautifully hand carved dancing figures. Cuckoo clocks with dancing figures or dancing couples are very highly popular. Clocks that feature these figures will normally have them located below the cuckoo. The dancers will turn when the music plays. There are many types and styles of dancing figures. Some clocks have dancing couples while others feature Black Forest couples or children. The figures will be hand carved and/or hand painted depending on the price of the cuckoo clock. Those that are hand carved and painted may be a bit more expensive, but they are much more authentic which, in turn, makes them more valuable.

Moving figurines and other moving elements

Genuine Black Forest cuckoo clocks have other moving elements besides the figures. The Chalet styled cuckoo clocks have authentic looking beer drinkers that lift their glasses or wood choppers with moveable axes. Some have beautiful water wheels that turn when the music plays as well as other moving figurines and elements. The product description under each style of cuckoo clock gives a fully detailed description of all the moving figures and elements.

A few of the traditionally carved cuckoo clocks also have moving parts. Some feature moving cuckoo birds. The moving elements and figurines are one of the things that make the authentic Black Forest cuckoo clocks so highly popular. They bring years of fun and enjoyment to all.

Night Shut-off / Sound shut-off

Many people who own cuckoo clocks like to shut them off at night. Since they make some sort of sound every hour, and some every half hour, it is an excellent idea to have the advantage of a night shut-off. Depending upon where you hang your cuckoo clock, it could potentially wake you up in the night if you do not have a shut-off advantage. Another reason that night shut-off is beneficial is because it helps you to choose the perfect spot for your clock without the worries of the sounds going off all throughout the night hours. Many clocks have a manual shut-off for night that is implemented by simply turning a lever that is located on the outside of the cuckoo clock. Many others have an automatic night shut-off that make them much easier for those who use cuckoo clocks frequently. The automatic shut-off is much more convenient as you have no worries of forgetting to implement the shut-off. While not all cuckoo clocks come with a night shut-off feature, you can determine which ones have it by browsing through our selection and reading the details under each cuckoo clock.

Wood

The many different colors that you see in cuckoo clocks are normally not the result of different types of wood. Most cuckoo clocks from the Black Forest are carved from the locally found Linden tree, also known as the Lime tree. Black Forest clock creators use this wood because it is best for their carvings, although some manufacturers occasionally use maple as their wood of choice.

Differences in Prices / Price determination

Every original German Black Forest cuckoo clock is a product of the most exceptional quality and all are completely handmade in Germany. All mechanical clocks that we carry have the highest standard of quality and are priced much lower than normal retailers. Our lower prices do not, however, mean lower quality. All of our cuckoo clock selections carry the same Original Black Forest cuckoo clock quality and guarantee. There are, however, certain features on some of the cuckoo clocks that will cause the price to be slightly higher than others.

Most of the prices do not vary by manufacturer. Although all Black Forest cuckoo clocks have approximately the same pricing ranges, some will be a bit more expensive depending on the manufacturer's suggestions.

Typically cuckoo clocks that have an 8-Day movement will be a bit more expensive than those that feature a 1-Day movement. Also, if the cuckoo clock features music it may be a bit more expensive as well.

There are other factors that may help to determine the price of the clock. These factors include:

  • size of the clock - normally larger clocks are more expensive than smaller models.
  • number of tones on the musical movement - again more music means a slightly higher price.
  • number of melodies
  • The number and depth of the hand carvings will also determine the price.
  • Whether or not the dancing figurines are hand painted and hand carved will sometimes mean a slightly higher price.
  • The number and size of the figurines as well as whether or not they move and are hand painted and hand carved will affect pricing range.
  • If the clock features a genuine wood carved cuckoo, dial, hands, roof and figurines will determine the price.
  • Normally clocks that have either a manual or automatic night shut-off will be slightly higher in price.

Warranty / Care / Repair

Once you purchase an original Black Forest cuckoo clock, it is tested intensively. There is rarely ever a problem with a Black Forest clock. All of the clocks that we carry come with a 24 month warranty for the mechanical parts. Since all Black Forest manufacturers pay the strictest attention to quality, there have been few, if any warranty claims. If, after your purchase, you should experience a problem with your clock then we will solve your problem quickly and in the most convenient manner. We work with the manufacturers to ensure that you are completed satisfied with your Black Forest cuckoo clock purchase.

Normally all cuckoo clocks run for many years without ever experiencing a single problem. Even so, the manufacturers do recommend that you have maintenance done on every 3 to 5 years. Maintenance of cuckoo clocks includes having your cuckoo clock cleaned and oiled. You can find a local clockmaker to handle your clock maintenance for you very inexpensively. The movements in each Black Forest cuckoo clock is built to last for 30 years and having it maintained regularly will ensure that you increase the life of your clock. New parts, if needed, can normally not be purchased at your local shop. If you need new parts you can simply contact us here at the Cuckoo Palace or visit the manufacturers website. Another place to find the parts that you may need is www.timesavers.com. This site specializes in providing needed clock parts for all manufacturer's models.

When you receive your cuckoo clock, it will help to prolong its life if you be sure to only expose it to a normal indoor environment. Temperatures below freezing or 32° F, as well as dusty or humid environments are inappropriate for cuckoo clocks and can harm their performance.

Mounting, set-up and shipping of a cuckoo clock

Once you have received your cuckoo clock it is imperative that you know how to mount it. Each cuckoo clock that we ship comes with a user manual and instructions for set-up. Please read the instructions very carefully before you begin mounting and setting up your clock. You should strive to keep the original box that the clock is shipped in just in case you ever need to ship it back for warranty reasons. Each box is specifically created to provide the ideal shipping for the cuckoo clock.

A very important thing to remember is that once you have removed the small bag under the clock that contains the chains you should never turn the clock upside-down. Doing so could cause the chains to slip from their wheels and cause problems with your clock.

When you are ready to mount your cuckoo clock, you should choose the ideal place in your home that you want to hang it. Your location will depend on the size of the clock as well as any movement that it features. Keep in mind that each clock can easily weigh up to 22 pounds, so finding a secure and solid supported wall or stud will be crucial. The weights must hang freely so the minimum height recommendation is normally 5 to 6 feet off the floor.

Shipping a Cuckoo Clock

If you find that you must ship a cuckoo clock, be sure to pull the chains so that the hooks are situated underneath the case. Insert a piece of string, wire or twist wrap through all the chains as close as possible to the bottom of the case. This will prevent the chains from separated from the wheels. You should also slip a piece of paper into the spiral gong on the inside of the back access panel. Once this is done you can pack the clock into the box with crushed newspapers. You should never use packing peanuts for transporting your cuckoo clock as they will enter the clock and cause performance problems. Once you have the clock packed into the box, wrap and label the pendulum and place it in the box with the clock. You do not need to send the weights with the clock, however, if they are numbered then you should write those numbers on a piece of paper along with your name, address, telephone number, email address and a description of the problems that you are having. Enclose all of this information in the box with the clock before shipment.

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