Did you know that such a thing exists as the Black Forest Cuckoo Clock of the Year?
Yup! It is a competition amongst clockmakers that is hosted annually by the Black Forest Clock Association. Competitors usually include the most well-known cuckoo clock makers such as Engstler, Hones, Schwer, Schneider, Herr, and Rombach & Haas.
Clockmaking contests are an age-old tradition in the Black Forest as they started long before the cuckoo clock was even made.
In fact, the modern design of the cuckoo clock was inspired by the winner of one of the most historic clock making competitions ever. The design, as you may know, was Eisenlohr’s and it was the rail house.
Like the clock competitions of several hundred years ago, the purpose of them is to bring together some of the greatest designs and ideas with the hope of improving the future of the cuckoo clock.
It helps to combine the past traditions and inspire future generations. The cuckoo clock can be of any style (shield, rail house, carved, chalet ect) but it must be an authentic Black Forest Cuckoo Clock and maintain a seal that says so.
Many of these clocks are still available for purchase today.
Past competitions were held in a travel center and welcomed approximately 35,000 guests!
Each clock is displayed and the winner is chosen by popular vote for its artistic style, innovative design, and traditional integrity. Below we celebrate some of the masterpieces we were fortunate enough to have been presented with.
Rombach & Haas
The first cuckoo clock to win the Clock of the Year award was a stunning shield clock by Rombach & Haas. The oldest style of cuckoo clock, perhaps, but it is a proud clock of 50 centimeters that boasts a Westminister sound and 4 strikes an hour. The clock is elaborately ornamented with decorative hand painting and a stunning top of deep burgundy and gold. It gives the air of being a royal clock that could easily have fit in any king’s room of treasures.
Rombach & Haas
They did it again! And once more, it veered from the classic style of cuckoo clock. Neither Chalet styled nor Carved styled, this cuckoo clock that Rombach & Haas produced is a 45-centimeter rail house cuckoo clock. Showing its deep roots in the Black Forest, it has elegant decorations of fine wood carvings to decorate not only the top of the rail house but also surrounding the clock dial are stunning vine carvings. Great pillars also stand resolutely on each side of the clock dial. Just below the cuckoo bird are several small dancers that frolic about as the music plays.
Rombach & Haas
Ok seriously- is anybody else ever going to win this… can we even call it a contest?? But congratulations once again to Rombach & Haas. This cuckoo clock is very similar to their previous entrant and winner. Stands at only 43 cm, this rail house cuckoo clock has omitted the dancers present in the 2002 Clock of the Year, but it lacks no elegance or style. It emphasizes master wood carving with vines and tall columns that demand your respect.
Finally, we get a new winner and a new style! This time it is the Chalet by Schwer that takes top honors as Cuckoo Clock of the Year. It is perhaps one of the most elaborately decorated cuckoo clock that exists today. It is even has a name, Gutshof. It is a scene of a traditional Black Forest fair or festival. A band plays below a deck of jolly dancers that spin about to the music. It also has a wrap around porch… if only my house could be this elaborately decorated! On the opposite side is a horse in a small pasture of green grass with a farm dog. A bell ringer stands at the ready to ring the bell at the top of the cuckoo clock. By far one of my favorite designs! It is 58 cm and weighs approximately 16 kilograms.
Rombach & Haas
It is Rombach & Haas’ third time winning the Cuckoo Clock of the Year award, but their first time winning the title with a chalet style cuckoo clock. This cuckoo clock evokes old timers feel with a plow horse and water wheel as the focal point. But don’t let the simple idea fool you! Every piece of the clock fits well with the theme. The windows have green hand carved shutters and inside are country styled curtains. The water wheel spins merrily behind a wooden fence. On one side of the clock is a farmer and the other shows a woman, likely his wife, feeding chickens. What is there not to love about this chalet cuckoo clock?
One of my personal favorite brands takes top honors at the Cuckoo Clock of the Year competition! Hones created a masterful design that incorporated not just a simple village scene, but one that is relatable to all clock enthusiasts. I love the thought that went into this clock as well as the design itself. Here, the clock maker slings his masterpiece over his back to travel to the far away market place with the hopes of selling it and bringing back food for his family. His wife bids him goodbye with a tear-filled handkerchief in hand, and her hard working sun takes up the saw as he carves out the next clock. Surrounded by Black Forest trees, we can see the thought that went into this design, demonstrating how most Black Forest clock makers lived in the forest far from the markets. A bell also sits astride the top of the chalet and below are dancers that keep the mood of the scene light and cheerful. Unlike most common chalet cuckoo clocks, this one also features 4 windows in a row. Each is decorated with obvious care featuring small flowers on the shutters as well as inside the flower boxes. I could go on and on, but I think you see the brilliance just as plainly as I!
It’s a first for Schneider, but certainly far from the last! Another charming chalet captures the attention of the public as they proudly cast their votes. This one features some merry drinking at a small pub located to the right of the clock dial. Several deer are present on the side of the pub and Black Forest trees are sprinkled throughout the scene. A couple also sits on a pile of logs perhaps enjoying an evening together and the peace of the forest. In the center is a dog and wood pile. The dog stares up intently at his master, perhaps begging for a few table scraps. This chalet has traditional German siding and windows all over the clock. It even features a small porch on the side of the clock dial.
We have been on a streak of new winners and this time it's Mr. Schwer’s clock that triumphed over difficult competition to become the 2008 Clock of the Year. As any great work of art, this cuckoo clock has a name which is Gutach Valley Mill. It captures the daily life of Alpine farmers with all their animals and children. I enjoy watching how the styles and traditions have changed over the years. The animals, for one, are of a much brighter color and finer finish, showing the progress that has been achieved in a few short years. Examine the dog in this clock versus those of older years. You will see how it has been refined and more finely sculpted- an artwork in itself. In fact, it is all of the small detailed intricacies of this clock that made it a sure winner. From the hay fork and barrels to the dog house and water wheel, we can see the ingenuity of the small craftsmanship. I also liked their choice of red curtains to go with the farmhouse style.
Now we’re getting fancy! If I told you I was thinking about an object with two buildings, 3 villagers, numerous dancers, a beer stein, log fencing, trees and a dog… your first guess probably wouldn’t be “clock”! But there you have it, folks! August Schwer built us a masterpiece and I can’t say I have much criticism for it! It is called Goat Peter’s Farm but really contains everything under the sun. It only stands at 43 cm and is one of the shortest clocks of all the winners, but it makes up for it with its abundance of not just activity, but a life and joy that can only be found in the Black Forest.
After getting a taste of winning, he was ready to have some more! I imagine that by now all his will was bent upon that Clock of the Year title, for what else could have inspired such a gem as this? We can see that, once again, he accomplishes his by with setting a jubilant atmosphere that is sourced from the abundance of activity and life. A young lady brushes her pony inside its paddock and another woman rings the bell that sits aloft the chalet. This clock even has a stair case, and parallel to it, for a reason I cannot quite imagine, a ladder. I also find my attention drawn to the majestic owls painted on the doors that conceal the dancers. A fine example of Black Forest excellence and a winning cuckoo clock for years to come!
This year, Huber Herr breaks the Schwer streak with their chalet entry. Quite unique from those cuckoos we have previously encountered, though nonetheless enchanting. This cuckoo clock takes us to a Black Forest flour mill that features a few chickens and some hardy villagers. Fresh bread lays out in front, and while no Black Forest villager would be so brazen as to steal it, the bread's aroma is certainly one to make your mouth water! The top half of the chalet overhangs to allow the dancers plenty of room to spin about to the music. This is the first cuckoo clock that has attached a small factory to the house, though I think we can agree we are always welcoming these new ideas and designs!
I suppose that the break in Schwer’s winning streak provided some serious motivation here. If Herr’s clock won by adding on a building (although I think it was much more than that) Schwer decided it was time he just build the whole farm into the cuckoo clock! And I can’t say we think it was a foolish idea! Appropriately named, Farm of the Goatherd, this cuckoo clock has a cart of hay, some dogs, goats, a cow and several Black Forest trees. The little fence encircles a small barn perhaps for goats o cattle and the other side of the clock also features a small hut. With all the hustle and bustle this clock offers, it is difficult to find your attention wavering from the clock.
The Chalet cuckoo clocks are still welcomed by the public, though they have been scaled back once more to consisting of only one building, the chalet itself. Perhaps fans were worried that soon the cuckoo clock entries would fail to fit through the doors of the travel center. Nonetheless, this eight-day chalet is another equestrian-themed farm with several ponies pulling logs through the forest. Woodchoppers sit at the center of the clock in front of a stone wall as they work to grow their piles of logs. I like the compact ideas of this clock as it is the first winner to have built within the cuckoo clock. Notice the pony in the stable that is a part o the chalet rather than as a separate building as seen in our previous winner.
This is another chalet cuckoo that takes a more compact design and focuses more on detail than elaborate design. There are no distractions in this clock as everything is focused on the pub at hand. It features barrels and benches as scenery and some pals focusing on an intense card game in the pub. Just outside, a beer maiden walks out to a few friends enjoying a drink outside. Another marvelous clock that makes the most of every millimeter the chalet has to offer. In addition to the exterior detail, the clock also has 2 melodies from 36 different pitches.
A beautiful chalet with a sweeping swiss roof! I am so proud of my favorite clockmaker, Hones, for taking home the Clock of the Year title. It is another 8-day movement and features deer, wood piles, and trees from the Black Forest. It has a wild feel, surrounded by deer and their young and only the hiker and his dog suggest this forest is connected to a village. I like the new idea of the enclosed water wheel, which we have not yet seen before. The roof also overhangs it, providing yet another innovative idea.
Well, that’s it for the first 15 winners! The most winning clockmaker is August Schwer with 5 wins under his belt, though the early years were dominated by Rombach & Haas. Rombach & Haas has been an industry leader and is now known for their modern cuckoo clocks. I wonder how long it will be before we see the first modern cuckoo clock take the honor of Clock of The Year?? The Clock of The Year title has been claimed by a variety of styles including the shield clock, rail house clock, and chalet cuckoo clock. I would love to see a carved cuckoo clock win one day, but a modern victory would be welcomed as well. Which style are you rooting for? And who will be the lucky maker?
Share this post