How to Spot an Original Wooden Cuckoo Clock

Several accounts have been made to trace the hidden past of the cuckoo clock.

It is believed to have originated from Germany from the 1600s to the 1700s. A man named Franz Anton Ketterer is the first recorded Black Forest cuckoo clockmaker from the village of Schönwald. Up to this moment, there is still an ongoing debate as to where it really came from or who invented it.

Wondering why this classic timepiece is one of the most iconic items of all time?

Look at its intricate decoration hand-carved into blocks of wood using more than 50 different knives. In the modern times, the artist does no carving at all but instead paints a careful design to maintain the old-fashioned look of the timepiece.

Two styles are famous for collectors and buyers –

the traditional-style cuckoo clock and the chalet style cuckoo clock. Other forms have developed over time that are now battery-operated, including the railroad house clock, shield-style clocks, and modern-style cuckoo clocks. If you want to know if you own an authentic wooden cuckoo clock, here are some tips:


First, the entire timepiecehas to be made out of wood, except,of course, the mechanical movements that are built with hard brass.


The movements must be powered only by weight or gravity. Any original wooden cuckoo clock driven by mechanical actions must have the VdS seal and a stamp of the manufacturer when you turn it over.

Clock System

Inside the clock, there are brass gears that allow the cuckoo to function. A typical cuckoo clock has two chains and two cast iron weights. They are used to adjust the speed of the movement gears. The third weight in some cuckoo clocks is placed to operate the music box.

Interior Design

When you open up the interior of the clock, there are two mechanical works wounded – a one or an eight-day movement. An 8-day clock needs to be loaded at least once a week,and if it plays music, it will include an automatic night shut off. Meanwhile, a one-day clockhas to be wounded per day.


An authentic wooden cuckoo clock has its case and exterior designs of its cuckoo pipes handmade in Germany from the Black Forest region.

Variety of Styles

A cuckoo clock may have various styles and details. The traditional ones typically have carvings of wildlife and forest animals such as deer, birds, owls or eagles, typical in the natural environment of Germany. On the other hand, the chalet-style cuckoo clocks showSwiss-style houses made of timber. It has vibrant figurines playing the everyday life of a Black Forest villager.

Variety of Sounds

Not all cuckoo clocks sound alike, so do not panic if your cuckoo’s bellows are smaller than others. Different clocks may produce a different cuckoo sound. More prominent bellows correspond to more in-depth calls and more miniature bellows to a higher call.

Handmade clocks are rare finds, and it can cost quite a fortune. There are new stylistic versions of the cuckoo clocks around the world with more technologically-advanced clockwork. But having your own original quintessential timepiece can surely be priceless.