Black Forest Antique Clocks

Antique Black Forest Clocks

Starting from themid-17th century, the Black Forest region of Germany gained recognition for the high-quality German clocks its clockmakers produced. While they started off with simple devices, they soon started making more complicated ones with complex movements. These master German clockmakers are credited with the creation of the cuckoo clock in its final, refined form. An authentic Black Forest antique clock has become a rare and sought-after find for horologists and collectors.

What Makes Antique Black Forest Clocks Special?

Black Forest horology started off as a way for farmers to supplement their income in the quite winter months. Manufacturing them was a family tradition, handed down from parents to children for generations, with a number of families in the region earning fame from their skills. The Junghans are one such family who are still active and who now make watches.

  • Handmade Craftsmanship: Black Forest clockmakers began their trade before the industrial revolution and before mass production. Each timepiece was made by hand. Early modelsfeatured wooden wheels, but after the middle of the 18th century, German clockmakers had moved onto yellow brass parts. As technology advanced Black Forest clocks evolved as well, with dials progressing from wooden faces, to porcelain faces, and in the modern era, to digital faces.
  • Complex Mechanisms: Antique black forest clocks feature some very intricate mechanisms to work their magic. For example, they are credited with perfecting thecuckoo clock, a mechanical wonder that uses a pendulum and weights to regulate the timekeeping mechanism and the mechanism that controls bellows that produce the two-toned musical note that mimics the cuckoo bird. Antique musical wall clocks, such as those made by Emilian Wehrle, are another example of Black Forest clocks that feature intricate mechanisms. Some of these antique clocks featured one-day mechanisms, while others featured more complex eight-day mechanisms that needed winding only once a week.

What Are the Types of Black Forest Clocks?

  • Type of Chime: Antique clocks may be classified by the type of sound produced on the hour. They may be Black Forest cuckoo clocks, bell clocks, musical clocks, or trumpeter clocks. They may also be classified based on how often the they chime. Some do it every hour, while others do so every half hour.
  • Type of Decoration: Cuckoo clocks may be classified based on the decoration surrounding the clock face. These may be Bahnhausleuhr types, which feature an ornamented house-like structure or Jagdstuck clocks. The latter, also called hunt pieces, feature intricate hand-carved nature scenes. Nature scenes that feature only carved likenesses of live animals are called romantic motifs.
  • Type of Case: Grandfather clocks are large freestanding devices, while wall clocks are designed to be mounted on walls. Other types include mantle clocks and table clocks. In addition, clocks may be classified by the type of wood used to make the case. This could be pine, walnut, or other woods available in the Black Forest region.

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