Different Styles of Cuckoo Clocks – Designed in Time
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Different Styles of Cuckoo Clocks

Posted by Megan Mahoney on

The cuckoo clock has evolved a lot over time! 

What started out as a simple painting evolved into a whole movement of clock making! Fortunately, most of these styles still exist today and many new ones have also developed in recent years. Here's a peak at some of the most popular styles of cuckoo clocks.


Modern Style

Modern style cuckoo clocks have become the rave of the 21st century. These are typically more affordable and while this may be contributed to a sacrifice in the detail, they certainly are none the less popular. Modern cuckoo clocks are often brightly colored and used more for home decor in modern, chic settings. As they become increasingly popular with notable interior decorators, we often see them grace the focal point of a wall of clocks. They are wonderful for a space that you want to add a lively character to and are certainly a shift from the average grandma’s house. Many modern cuckoos do still carry the bird/deer and leaf themes, though some also consist of simply a box. Occasionally you will even find one without a cuckoo bird! Perhaps the most common color for modern cuckoos is a bright white, as white is easy to blend with a wall of clocks. Other common colors include green, red/burgundy and even yellow. Whether you want to add light or life to your room, modern style cuckoos are more than ready for the challenge!


Shield Clocks

Shield clocks are the earliest form of cuckoo clocks and are perhaps the most rare. Shield clocks are named such as they do not have a house appearance, but consist of a painted square with a clock. The painting on the shield usually consists of flowers, though in the early stages of cuckoo making it depicted scenes of religion, love and other objects of the artists’ interests. Above the square shield, all shield clocks still retain a cuckoo bird. It will pop out and call in the same way that a Black Forest clock would. Though few are seen gracing the walls of modern houses, there are still some that exist, and are always a highlight at clock museums. The Black Forest Clock Association also continues on their tradition.


Black Forest Chalet

The Black Forest Chalet cuckoo is among the most popular of the cuckoo styles. It has the classic house style box and often features moving dancers and a Bavarian village scene. Made entirely of Lime and Linden wood of the Black Forest in Germany, many people believe they are the most coveted style of cuckoo clock. Ironically, though the Black Forest is credited with the authenticity of the cuckoo clock, the Chalet was strongly influenced by Germany’s Swiss neighbors. The design was originated from Swiss mountain chalets. The only part of an authentic Black Forest Chalet that is not made in the Black Forest is the Swiss music box (if it has music). A Chalet may be made in the Black Forest, however, if it has a battery operated movement, it is considered to be a quartz clock and therefore is not authentic.


Black Forest Carved/Traditional

The traditional or carved Black Forest cuckoo clock is inspired by the wildlife that roams the Black Forest. Common designs include deer and leaf, bird and leaf and owl and leaf. This will sometimes feature musical dancers just below the cuckoo, though it seldom does feature people. These clocks come mostly in a rich mahogany and can be hand painted. Like the Chalet cuckoos, all traditional/carved cuckoos that are eligible for the Black Forest seal must be made entirely of linden/lime wood from the Black Forest and must function purely mechanically. Once again, the only aspect that does not have to be from the Black Forest is the music box, should it play music.


Kids Cuckoo Clocks

With life and character second to none, these little clocks are sure to brighten your day! We have seen them decorate playrooms, hallways, and bedrooms for young cuckoo enthusiasts. Children fall captive of the cuckoo's magic just the same way that we do, so we decided that the best thing to do was create one for them too! These are much sturdier and equip to handle the enthusiastic love of youngsters. They will often come in bright colors and will bring out a smile in anyone.


Railroad clocks

Railroad cuckoo clocks are also among the earliest types of cuckoo clocks. They were first introduced as the upgrade from shield clocks. The design was brought to life by a railroad architect during a clock design competition. The Railroad cuckoo clock is built like a rail house and is how the cuckoo clock came to be house shaped. It is the precursor to the Black Forest cuckoo clock that many accept today as the standard version of the cuckoo clock. Railroad cuckoo clocks originally were missing the cuckoo due to design costs, however today these clocks come both with and without the cuckoo.



Miniature Cuckoo Clocks

Miniature Cuckoo clocks are a modern day invention that many people adore in their homes. They can have the same appearance as either a modern or traditional style and are typically much more affordable. Miniature cuckoo clocks are not recognized by the Black Forest Clock Association, however they can be mechanically run and made in the Black Forest. However, most are quartz clocks as they are more affordable and many people prefer the convenience of a battery operated movement.

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