There is a detailed description of a cuckoo clock existing in a private collection of Prince Elector August von Sachsen as early as 1629 but unfortunately this clock no longer exists so we have no way of knowing what it looked like.
It is widely regarded that Schwarzwald (The Black Forrest) in Germany is the home of the cuckoo clock despite them being considered by many a Swiss invention.
The proud traditions of cuckoo clock making began in the Black Forest in the early 18th century and by the middle of that century several workshops in the region were making them although nobody can agree on who made the first one. There are several claims to this accolade but not a great deal of hard evidence !
Originally made from paper and wood and in the early days with wooden mechanisms the cuckoo clock accounted for just a small portion of the clocks being made in the workshops of the Black Forest.
Miraculously this wood and paper example from around 1780 still exists today.
It seems that by the mid 1800’s the cuckoo clock had become much more than a niche product for the clock makers with many now specialising in just this type of clock.
Schwarzwald continued to develop as a cuckoo clock making powerhouse and is still the place with the largest output today. Many of the companies are still small family run establishments with workshops and small factories dotted throughout the towns and villages of the area.
The shapes and styles of clock have changed and evolved throughout the years but the traditional chalet and hunting inspired carved clocks are still highly popular designs.
If you’re ever in Germany I can highly recommend a visit to Schwarzwald in the south west of Germany. It is warm, stunningly scenic, friendly and everything works well in true German style! If you’re interested in cuckoo clocks then there is the added bonus that there are a lot of clockmakers in the region, many of whom have longs and interesting histories. There is also a large clock museum in Furtwangen. Aside from clock things there are great hiking and biking trails, thermal spas and skiing in winter. I’d recommend visiting in spring or autumn as it can get busy in the peak summer months.
Oh and I almost forgot, the Schwarzwaldküche (Black Forest Gateau)…..