Cuckoo clocks are a special type of clock that has a unique way of telling you when a new hour strikes.
Sometimes made of dozens of intricate parts, they’re practically works of art, themselves.
If you have a love for clocks, then you may have considered buying a cuckoo clock.
A quick look at the prices, however, will tell you that cuckoo clocks are quite expensive.
Why Are Cuckoo Clocks So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
Authentic cuckoo clocks can cost anywhere from $200 to more than $2,000.
Certain factors like the manufacturer, its animation capabilities, and its maintenance costs make it an expensive type of clock.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Manufacturer Name
One of the main reasons cuckoo clocks are expensive is that master artisans are behind their production.
The best cuckoo clocks come from manufacturers who have been making cuckoo clocks for centuries.
One example of an expensive clockmaker is Anton Schneider.
The company started making cuckoo clocks in Germany in 1848.
Six generations later, the same family is responsible for making incredible clocks.
That kind of expertise and craftsmanship is difficult to find anywhere else.
Not only have they had time to perfect their craft, but they also have had time to improve their business and ensure they’re always providing high-quality customer service.
Another well-known manufacturer of cuckoo clocks is August Schwer.
This company started producing cuckoo clocks in 1885 and has gone on to produce certain styles that have won many awards.
The reason certain manufacturers make cuckoo clocks expensive is that you’re paying both for mastery and history.
To say you have a Schneider clock or a Schwer clock is like saying you have one of the first Rolex watches ever made.
The name has value.
Since the name is valuable, the products associated with that name are also valuable.
It’s also important to remember that Germany, particularly in the Black Forest, is where cuckoo clocks originate from.
When you buy one from one of these manufacturers, you’re essentially buying from the original source.
Cuckoo clocks are expensive when you buy from one of the great manufacturing companies in Germany.
The style that you choose for your cuckoo clock can also determine its price.
While there are tons of variations from one clock to the next, each one can fall into four main categories.
When people think about a traditional cuckoo clock, they usually think about a chalet style.
It’s an A-frame structure that often comes with different decorations on it.
Expensive chalet cuckoo clocks may even have a few different buildings on them to display a small town.
Chalet cuckoo clocks are usually quite large, which adds to their price.
It takes a considerable amount of time to make a chalet cuckoo clock.
Another expensive style of a cuckoo clock is the carved cuckoo clock.
This style usually depicts hunting scenes.
It may have incredible imagery of different animals, rifles, and other hunting tools.
These clocks can sometimes be thinner or smaller, so they won’t always be as expensive as a chalet cuckoo clock.
However, it all comes down to how many different animals you want on your clock.
The more intricate the scene, the more expensive it’s going to be.
A shield cuckoo clock is one of the most simplistic styles.
It came out around the same time that the chalet cuckoo clocks did.
Shield cuckoo clocks have a square face that sits inside a circle.
It may have little villagers or small houses at the top that pop out at certain times of the day.
While chalet and carved cuckoo clocks have pine cones that hang from the clock, a shield clock has metal rods that hang below it.
The final style, the modern cuckoo clock, is an answer to those who want the beauty and craftsmanship of a cuckoo clock but prefer modern design and colors.
Since some styles require more time and effort than others, they tend to be a bit more expensive.
3. Movement Of Clock
Another major part of a cuckoo clock’s expense has to do with its movement.
Cuckoo clocks aren’t battery-powered or powered by electricity.
It uses a mechanical system to keep time.
The pendulums that hang from the cuckoo clock are responsible for keeping the time.
However, they only swing for a certain amount of time before they need to be reset.
There are two main movements.
One is the one-day cuckoo clock.
This clock requires you to reset the pendulums each day at the same time.
The other is an eight-day clock.
This one lasts an entire week before you need to reset the pendulums.
Resetting is quite easy.
All you have to do is hold the pendulums out to the sides as far as they can reach, then release them.
They’ll start swinging with full momentum again.
The reason the movement of the clock is expensive is that mechanical clocks are more complex.
They have several moving parts that work together to move the clock’s hands and keep accurate time.
Cuckoo clock manufacturers have to ensure that they make their clocks perfectly.
Otherwise, the clock won’t perform the one function it’s supposed to perform well.
Eight-day clocks also tend to be more expensive than one-day clocks because the machinery is usually a bit more advanced.
The fact that it lasts longer means that it’s a bit more convenient to use.
You don’t have to worry about resetting the clock each day.
Due to the complex machinery and the time it takes to build and perfect it, cuckoo clocks are expensive.
Another major factor that makes cuckoo clocks expensive is if it uses animation or not.
One of the hallmarks of any cuckoo clock is when the bird pops out of the clock.
However, not every cuckoo clock has a bird.
Others have far more advanced animation sequences.
For example, some clocks might have villagers run out of their homes.
Even the villagers might be moving in different ways.
One might be baking, for example, while another is tending to their fields.
Animals might appear, too, with even more complex animations.
The more animations or the more advanced the animation is, the more expensive the cuckoo clock is going to be.
That’s because pulling off those animations is no easy task.
The master crafters carve each piece out of wood.
Then they use gears and other parts to make the figures move.
It’s a time-consuming process that requires a lot of delicate work.
The more animation or scenes that the clock has, the more time it takes to make it.
It also means there are usually more materials used in the production of the clock.
If someone wants a clock that has a lot of animation in it, then the crafter is going to need to use more wood to make those figures.
It also means they’ll need more gears and other parts to make them move.
Then it all needs to connect together to go off at the right point when the clock strikes a certain hour.
Cuckoo clocks are expensive because of how advanced the animation in them can be.
5. Music Box
Another reason cuckoo clocks are expensive is that some of them contain a music box.
Most of the authentic cuckoo clocks that you buy from German manufacturers have intricate music boxes set within them.
They usually play classic German folk songs or tavern songs.
The music box tends to play at certain hours and coincides with certain animations.
For example, when the clock hits noon, the music box will start playing a song and the figures will come out to perform their animations.
Simple cuckoo clocks might only have the cuckoo bird pop out while the music is playing.
The reason this makes cuckoo clocks expensive is that it’s just another intricate piece that gets added to the cuckoo clock.
Some manufacturers might design and make their own music boxes.
That’s because they might need it to be a certain shape or size to fit inside the clock.
Since they produce their own, that only costs them more money.
Music boxes aren’t easy to make.
They also use tiny, delicate parts that can easily break when mishandled.
The manufacturers that import their own music boxes also have to spend a good amount of money on them.
Not only do they need high-quality music boxes from another manufacturer, but they likely also need custom-made ones to fit inside their clocks.
Once they have the music box, they then need to hook it up to the rest of the machinery.
Otherwise, it won’t start playing when it’s supposed to.
That adds yet more time and work on the clock.
Clocks without music boxes tend to be cheaper.
However, they’re also not always authentic German cuckoo clocks.
Since German cuckoo clocks have a reputation for having music boxes in them, most do, and thus tend to be more expensive.
6. Works Of Art
There’s no question that an authentic German cuckoo clock is a work of art.
It also happens to tell the time, but you’re really buying a cuckoo clock for its artistry.
Cuckoo clocks are a prime example of a woodcarver’s ultimate skills.
From detailed and realistic carvings of animals to excellent paintings, there’s a lot of love and skill put into each clock.
That adds value to the clock.
That also means that, like other works of art, the cuckoo clock could potentially be worth something one day.
Not every cuckoo clock is the same.
Even if you buy the same style as someone else, there’s always going to be something a bit different about it.
That’s because the woodcarvers make each clock by hand.
Since it’s a human worker behind it, they’re unable to do everything exactly the same as they did before.
Like paintings, this means that you receive a unique cuckoo clock.
If you were to ever sell that clock a few years later, it could have some incredible value to it to the right collectors.
Some cuckoo clocks sell for $3,000 or more at auctions.
Cuckoo clock manufacturers know that their clocks have artistic value.
They know that people might eventually sell their clocks for values higher than what they bought them for.
As such, they put an expensive price tag on their products to start with.
There’s a good chance that the owner of the clock will be able to make back that money and more later.
7. Rare Wood
In order for a clock to be an authentic German cuckoo clock, the wood used in the clock has to come from the Black Forest.
The Black Forest is a famous stretch of forest in Germany.
It’s the inspiration for many of the tales from the Brothers Grimm.
The wood is also hardy and looks great for wooden products.
Because authentic German cuckoo clocks only use wood from the Black Forest, the wood is technically rare.
To ensure they don’t deforest the Black Forest, clockmakers and other industries are only able to source so much wood.
Since they’re unable to get as much wood as they’d probably like, they’re only able to produce so many clocks a year.
That impacts the supply.
When demand is high for authentic German cuckoo clocks, it increases the price of those clocks.
8. Expensive Repairs
While buying your cuckoo clock is expensive, maintaining it is also expensive.
Cuckoo clocks are not simple to repair.
You need an expert in cuckoo clocks to repair them.
Otherwise, it’s easy to damage the delicate parts.
The problem with taking your cuckoo clock to a cuckoo clock mechanic is that they charge expensive prices for their services.
They know that they have a niche service that few others can provide.
As such, their services are in high demand.
That allows them to put a higher price on their repair services.
While you can always attempt to fix your clock yourself, that also comes with a lot of risks.
Cuckoo clocks are expensive because repair services are expensive.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why cuckoo clocks are expensive is that they’re all handmade.
While some manufacturers might use automation to make certain parts of a cuckoo clock, by and large, each piece is made by a master woodcarver.
This means that labor costs are usually quite high.
Manufacturers have to ensure that they have the best of the best to produce remarkable and award-winning clocks.
Those types of workers don’t come cheap.
They know that their skills are in high demand.
Handcrafting also means that errors get made.
Although a master carver is sure to make fewer mistakes, they’re still human.
That usually means they need more materials which further costs the company money, which is added to the final selling price and passed on to the consumer.
10. Long Production Time
A final reason cuckoo clocks are expensive is that they take a long time to make.
Making a cuckoo clock can take as little as three days or as much as a month.
Large clocks or extremely intricate ones might take even longer.
Since they take a long time to make, their production cost is quite high.
That’s a lot of labor, for example, that goes into it before the laborer would get paid for that piece.
To ensure they’re able to cover their high costs and make a profit, the manufacturer has to sell the clocks at high prices.
Cuckoo clocks are unique clocks that are more similar to works of art.
For the reasons we’ve discussed above, you often see authentic German cuckoo clocks selling at extremely expensive prices.