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Beginners Guide   Print
 

If you have the wish to buy one of those fancy cuckoo clocks you might have seen during your trip through Germany – especially when you visited the Black Forest Region or one of the countless souvenir shops all over the main tourist centers most of the buyers come to the point:
What to do now to get the cuckoo clock that suits me best?


We will try to help you out here with our beginners guide:
it will give you a rough idea about the crucial points to think about. Especially when you invest a little fortune – you should take care to make the best out of it. Many questions from people that have never owned a cuckoo clock and therefore do not understand the first thing about them. So we have added this guide as a way to answer some of the common questions on Cuckoo Clocks. If you do not find the information you are looking for that perhaps you should also check the content behind the other buttons of this website.
After answering these questions by your own than you should be ready to make the right decision:

  Beginners Guide

What kind of movements are available?
How much money should I spend?
Major questions which should be answered before you buy your new clock?
How does a cuckoo clock work?
How do I set up the clock?
How do I mount the Clock?
When do the movements occur and what moves?
My clock doesn't keep time.
How can I sleep with the cuckoo and music going off all the time?
How does the clock make that Cuckoo Sound?
What type of wood are the clocks made of?
How high are the shipping costs I have to expect?

 


What kind of movements are available?

To answer this question deeply please check the information under the button “Available movements”. This part is to extensive than to answer it within a few sentences. The main difference of the movements are the 1-Day or 8-Day clocks with or without music. There are no clocks with for example a 10-Day or 5-Day movement. If the clock is equipped with music – which always is indicated with a third weight – a tune will be played after the cuckoo makes his cuckoos are each half and full hour. The movement determines thequality of the clock. Modern clock movements are machine manufactured from hardened brass. The two major clock movement makers in the world today are Hermle and Kieninger, both are German manufacturers. However, Kieninger is owned by the American clock manufacturer Howard Miller Company in Zeeland MI. Hermle has a factory here in the USA.

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How much money should I spend?

This questions is always the crucial one. If you want quality than it will have a certain price. Cuckoo clocks can range form US $ 50 up to US $ 4.000. The price determines the size, the movement, the quantity of carvings, equipped with music, moveable figures, brand name etc.
If you want to buy a clock over the internet – than you will have for sure the possibility to compare our favourite models. Take the time because it´s worth. There are price differences sometimes between more than 100% on the same model.
Always check the manufacturers warranty, the movement brand and the available service stations in the USA. Normally a good clock shop could repair all the major brand names of Cuckoo Clock manufacturers form Germany. If you buy a no-name clock than you risk that it´s not worth its money. The old saying "You get what you pay for" is more true today than ever.

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What are the major questions which should be answered by yourself before you buy your new clock?

  • Pull up the weights every day (1-Day Movement) or every 8 days (8 Day movement)?
  • Has the clock a cuckoo sound AND a gong?
  • Do I want the Clock with some kind of dancing figurines?
  • If with musical box how many tunes can it play and how many notes?
  • Is the dial made of wood or plastic?
  • Are the "hands" made of wood or plastic?
  • Is the cuckoo made of wood or plastic?
  • Is the cuckoo hand carved?
  • Is the clock made of wood or plastic?
  • Equipped with Night shut-off.... cuckoo is quiet during the night?
  • Is the night shut-off manual or automatic?
  • Is the clock hand made?
  • Is the cuckoo clock made in the Black Forest, in Germany and who is the manufacturer?
  • Do I want carving or extra deep carving and what will be the price difference?
  • What clock size is suitable for me?
  • Manufacturers Warranty - 90 days or up to 2 years?
  • Is the movement manufactured to DIN ISO 9001?

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How does a cuckoo clock work?

The heart of the clock is the movement within the clock. The key that moves it are the weights located at the bottom of the clocks. If you look at clock pictures, you will see the weights hanging below each of the clocks, most often in the shape of pinecones. The weights drop over either a one-day or eight-day period and provide the clock's functions. Some clocks come with two some with three weights. The first weight, along with the pendulum, provides the clock timekeeping function, the second weight controls the cuckoo and movements, and the third weight controls the music. On non-musical clocks the third weight is absent.
The weights hang under the clock by chains and slowly drop as the clock operates. Once the weights get near the floor, you must pull the chain's other end to pull the weights back to the clock. There are no batteries or electrical connections, all the motion and music is caused by the fall of the weights. Nowadays more and more quartz clocks are available and the traditional functionality falls more and more in oblivion.

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How do I set up the clock?

To answer this question deeply please check the information under the button “Set up”. This part is to extensive than to answer it within a few sentences. We worked out a very detailed set up procedure – so you can take your time and set up the clock very carefully. Beside that – in every original packed cuckoo clock box a manual should be added. If this is not included than please ask your dealer or the manufacturer for it. It really helps for the set up. Without it you will have a hard time to get the clock working. Chances are high that you will break something.

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How do I mount the Clock?

This questions first of all needs to be answered by the person who ones the clock. Most people ones to put the clock in the kitchen or living room. Nearly nobody ones it in the sleeping room – isn´t that interesting. Than it depends to the size and the weight of the clock. The larger eight-day clocks can weight around 15 Lb. First you need a very good support. Your support to a wall must be solid, into a stud. Remember that the clocks are expensive and can be heavy. Please supply good support on your wall. On most clocks a single hole in the rear of the clock will simply slide onto a heavy nail you have on your wall.
The clock must be mounted at a height and in an area where the weights can drop freely to the floor. We are talking about 5-6 feet. The clock will still operate with less room for the weights to drop, however, you will need to "pull" the weights more often. If you do not give enough space the weights simply will stop pulling the movement and the clock stops. The clock won´t get damaged – it just will stop
.

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When do the movements occur and what moves?

In general on all clocks the little cuckoo pops out and – if the clock it equipped with music – it sounds on the hour and half-hour. On one-day clocks the motion and music generally plays on the hour and half-hour, on eight-day clocks this same motion and music happens only on the hour.
The pendulum swings all of the time. If you stop it – just by pointing with a finger at it – the clock just stops working. If you want that it to go on simply just tip it and the clock starts again. Do not forget to adjust the time on the time dial. The cuckoo always pops its head out from behind his closed door and sounds the cuckoo. Once at 1:00 and up to twelve times at noon or midnight. The cuckoo also sounds the half hour. The remaining movements and music normally happen on the hour for eight-day clocks or on the hour and half-hour for one-day clocks. If the clock has dancers, they will spin with the music; waterwheels usually spin, bell ringers ring bells, bands move as they play, etc. Most clocks have beneath the cuckoo door little dancers – 4 of them – two boys and two girls – or couples – which are spinning when the music plays. These moving figures are most common with music clocks
.

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My clock doesn't keep time.

The speed of the clock is adjusted by moving the leaf on the pendulum up or down slightly. Down will make the clock slow down, up will make the clock speed up. Please do not forget that your clock is not a clock as you might think of a quartz clock. First it´s a wonderful piece of craftsmanship, looks fancy and charming and – if you are lucky – keeps the time. Not 100% - but that is not exactly the purpose of an Black Forest Cuckoo Clock.

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How can I sleep with the cuckoo and music going off all the time?


As we already mentioned a few questions before – nobody mount the clock in the sleeping room. For those who are convinced that this is the best place they do not have to worry. Most clocks have a lever, located near the weights, which allow you do disable the sounds and movements at anytime. This is known as a Night Shut-off. But to make sure please ask before because not every model is equipped with this device.

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How does the clock make that Cuckoo Sound?


The technique is very traditional and was improved more and more over the time. Inside each cuckoo clock is a pair of bellows. Think of these as squeezable air chambers or a musical bagpipe. Air is squeezed out and refilled in the bellows as part of the clocks movements. As air is pushed out of the first bellow through a slotted whistle carved on the clocks side. The air passing from this bellow gives the “Cu” sound. This is followed be the second bellow pushing air through a second slotted whistle. This bellow creates the “ckoo” sound. Again, these clocks where first created before electricity, so there are no electronic generated sounds.

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What type of wood are the clocks made of?

Thus the clocks come in different colours like dark mahagoni, walnut, natural light or antique oak the basic material stays the same. All the carvings for the cuckoo clocks are made from "linden wood". Grandfather clocks and wall clocks are made from various different timbers such as oak, erle and cherry. Different stains are used to achieve distinct wood colours like the ones just mentioned: light oak, rustic oak, dark oak, walnut, mahogany, German cherry and more. Carvings are made from carefully selected and matched woods. Some are mirror images on opposite corners, some are singletons. Modern clocks are given unique model numbers and are assigned an individual serial number.

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How high are the shipping costs I have to expect?

It depends where you want to buy your cuckoo clock? From a dealer located in Germany or already in the states. But please think about that twice – not the shipping costs should determine your decision, but the total costs for clock and shipping. If you order form a Germany based dealer the clocks are mostly cheaper but you have to pay more for shipping. A lot of US dealers advertise with “Free Shipping” for clocks – but by comparing the price you will see they already included the shipping and handling costs for the clock to bring it form Germany to the USA already in their offer. Nowadays most sellers ship overseas – so do not hesitate to order from a German Shop. Compare prices and you will surely make up your decision.

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We hope this guide has been of some help. We are always adding new points to this site based on customers’ comments and questions. Please feel free to email us any questions. We will try to help you as best as we can.

Always be aware: Naming a clock Black Forest Cuckoo Clock doesn't mean it is made in Germany's Black Forest!