Should I choose a Mechanical or Battery Cuckoo Clock?

Date Posted:31 May 2019 

Whether you choose mechanical or a battery operated cuckoo clock, all cuckoo clocks from are authentic cuckoo clocks made in Germany. These beautiful and unique hand carved clocks date back to the early 18th century and are still manufactured in the Black Forest region of Germany.

Making a cuckoo clock takes a lot of skill and experience. The carving and hand craft in every cuckoo clock makes them unique and uncomprimising quality and tradition means each manufacturer has standards that must be met to achieve the VdS certificate of authenticity. If you have the time, we recommend watching the video below to see the fascinating craft of mechanical cuckoo clock production.

Black Forest mechanical cuckoo clocks are powered by pine cone looking weights and come with two different movements:Overview image

1 Day Movement - you wind the clock by pulling the chain and winding the weights back to the base of the clock once every day 

8 Day Movement - you wind the clock by pulling the chain and winding the weights back to the base of the clock once every week.

Each clock will have either two or three weights; two weights for cuckoo only and three weights for cuckoo and music. One weight provides power to the clock movement which in turn moves the hands that show the time, one weight provides the power to drive the cuckoo calling mechanism and the third weight is for the mechanical music movement.

The cuckoo sound is produced using bellows that push air through two whistles creating the higher note 'coo' and lower note 'coo' sounds respectively. If you choose to also have music, the third weight drives a traditional Reuge mechanical music box movement with a pinned cylinder that plucks notes on a 'comb' to produce the melody.

Mechanical cuckoo clocks can be silenced with a manual on/off lever, with some models also featuring automatic night off. This means you can turn the cuckoo and music off completely, or in the case of automatic night off, it switches off from 8:00pm to 8:00am.

Quartz cuckoo clocks operate differently to mechanical cuckoo clocks. In this case, quartz simply means the clock movement is battery operated and they feature the sound of a real cuckoo bird in a forest environment. Unlike mechanical cuckoo clocks, these never need to be wound and therefore have ornamental or decorative weights and chains. Quartz cuckoo clocks are also available with music playing 12 different tunes alternating each hour. Most quartz cuckoo clocks feature a light sensor for automatic night shut off (the cuckoo and music does not play when it is dark).

Many cuckoo clocks also feature moving figurines. The technical name for the moving features in these types of products is called Automata. Automata are self operating or controlled mechanisms designed to automatically follow a predetermined sequence of operations: the cuckoo sound and the bird that appears when the door opens is one example of an automaton. Cuckoo clocks frequently have other automata which move when the cuckoo calls or the music plays. Some of the common automata are moving wood choppers, beer drinkers, kissing couples and water wheels. Many variations of these automata are featured on both mechanical and quartz cuckoo clocks.

Regardless of your preference, here at Clock Shop we stock a huge range of models to ensure that there is 'something for everyone'. If you're having trouble choosing, try filtering your search by movement type, or price, or maybe even the theme of the clock to see if you can find the perfect clock for you. We are always available to help you with your selection and can demonstrate clocks for you from our showroom, even over the phone or on video chat. Whatever the questions, don't be shy, we love to help.


Comments (2)

Battery operated - weight and pendulum

By: on 20 June 2021
Do the weights move down and the pendulum swings like the mechanical one in battery operated cuckoo clock? My place is windy and always stop the pendulum so battery could be a solution to me if only it looks and move as the traditional one

Clock Shop Response
The pendulum swings on the battery clocks the same as a mechanical clock however it does not influence the running of the clock. So if the wind stops the pendulum momentarily the time keeping will not be affected. The weights hang at a fixed height and don't move up and down.

Battery cuckoo clock

By: on 13 June 2021
How long will the battery last for?

Clock Shop Response
Good quality batteries should last at least 12 months. We recommend changing the batteries every year to reduce the chance of battery leaks and terminal corrosion

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