How Does A Cuckoo Clock Work? Parts Working Explained

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Are you someone who is fascinated by a cuckoo clock? Do you want to know how exactly does a cuckoo clock works?

If the answer to the above questions is a yes then you are at the right place, my friend. In this article, I will tell you in layman’s terms how cuckoo clocks work. Not only this but I have also tried to explain how the different parts of a cuckoo clock like the bird, weights, bellows, chains, pendulum, etc. work.

So without further ado let’s get started!

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How Does A Cuckoo Clock Work?

How Does A Cuckoo Clock Work

Let me first tell you how cuckoo clocks work and then we will look at the working of cuckoo clock parts.

A cuckoo clock does not make a sound that a normal clock makes, but like any other clock, the cuckoo clock is powered by clock movement. The movement consists of different parts like gears, springs, nuts, bolts, chains, and whatnot. And it’s the movement of these parts that makes the whole cuckoo clock run. These cuckoo clock parts are responsible for:

  • The movements of the bird
  • The sound that gets produced
  • Movement of clock hands, and basically for everything.

The movement of the cuckoo clock can be both mechanical and quartz. However, in order to get certified as an authentic cuckoo clock, the clock has to be certified by the Black Forest Clock Association of Germany. And in order to get certified the cuckoo clock has to have a mechanical movement.

However, if you are looking for an affordable cuckoo clock then you can get a quartz cuckoo clock from the market. As mechanical cuckoo clocks cost way more than quartz cuckoo clocks.

A cuckoo clock consists of some additional complications and watch parts as compared to a normal clock. Let us now look at cuckoo clock parts and their working in detail.

How Do Cuckoo Clock Weights Work?

Cuckoo Clock Weights

The first thing that you will notice in a cuckoo clock is the pinecone-shaped parts hanging below it. These are not actual pinecones but weights, which are quite heavy. The size and weight of these pinecones can vary according to the size and complications of the cuckoo clock. Some can weigh around 500gms each and some can weigh around 1.5kgs each.

Now you must be wondering, what exactly is the usage of these weights in a clock, right?

Let me tell you what they do. A mechanical watch or clock needs winding to keep running right? And the winding is done with a crown in watches, right?

To do the same winding, a cuckoo clock has weights. The weights are attached to chains which in turn are attached to gears and levers. When the weight moves downward due to gravity, it causes the gears to move. The gears then move the whole movement in the clock and the clock starts running. As the clock gets unwinded, the weight moves downwards, and to wind the clock again, you just have to pull the weight back up.

But wait, this is just one weight that we are talking about. What about the second weight? And how does a three-weight cuckoo clock works?

So now you know that one of the weights is responsible for moving the movement of the clock. Let me tell you about the other 2 weights.

The second weight in a cuckoo clock is responsible for the cuckoo sound that gets produced and also for the movement of the bird. As the second weight moves downward, it rotates the gear that is attached to it. This gear when moved moves the bird as well.

Generally, a cuckoo clock has two weights, one to run the clock and the second for the movement of the bird. However, these days, you will see the third weight as well. This third weight is responsible for the music that gets played when the birds come out.

What Makes The Bird Come Out On A Cuckoo Clock?

Cuckoo Clock Bird

You must already know it by now, but if you still have some doubts then let me clear them out.

As discussed, one of the weights in the cuckoo clock is responsible for the movement of the bird. This weight is attached to a chain and the chain is attached to a gear in the watch movement. Once the weight is hung down from the clock, gravity does its work and causes the hanging weight to move down.

When the weight moves down, the gear to which it is attached starts moving. This gear is connected to the lever on which the bird is mounted. And when the gear moves, it causes the lever to move which in turn moves the bird.

This is how the bird in a cuckoo clock comes out and goes back in.

How Do Cuckoo Clock Bellows Work?

Cuckoo Clock Bellows

Bellows are responsible for the cuckoo sound that you hear in cuckoo clocks. There are actually two bellows in every cuckoo clock. One of the bellows makes the “Cu” sound and the other makes the “Ckoo” sound. When moved in harmony they make a cuckoo sound.

Let me tell you how they produce the sound. The bellows are attached to the movement of the bird. When the bird moves, it causes the bellows to get opened and when it moves again they get closed. The air gets into the bellows when they get opened and when they are closed the air is forced to come out. When the air comes out it makes a sound, just like it makes in a whistle.

This way the bellows open and close one after the other making the cuckoo sound.

How Do Cuckoo Clocks Chains Work?

Cuckoo Clock Chains

As discussed, chains are used to hold the weights in a cuckoo clock. Other than holding the weight, the chains are also used to wind the clock. The gear that the chain is attached to works like a pulley. When you pull the other end of the chain, the weight moves up and the clock gets winded.

How Does A Cuckoo Clock Pendulum Work?

You must have noticed a maple-leaf-shaped pendulum in the cuckoo clock as well. This hangs below the cuckoo clock and keeps moving back and forth. One swing of the pendulum generally denotes a second. But have you ever wondered why it keeps moving?

Well, it is not just for show, it actually has a part to play in running the clock.

If the pinecones are heavy then why do they not move all the way down at once? Did this thought come across your mind till now?

This has to do with the swing of the pendulum. The pendulum is attached to a gear to which the weight is attached and it keeps the gear from moving freely. When the pendulum completes a swing, it gets detached from the gear once which causes the gear to move for a while.

Do Cuckoo Clocks Keep Good Time?

Yes, cuckoo clocks keep good time. They are just like normal clocks with added complications. However, if you want the assurance of the timekeeping and the quality of the cuckoo clock then you can buy a Black Forest Cuckoo Clock. As discussed earlier, these clocks are certified by the Black Forest Clock Association of Germany. And are considered the finest cuckoo clocks in the world.

Are Cuckoo Clocks Worth Anything?

Yes, depending on the level of craftsmanship that is performed on the watch, the worth of a cuckoo clock can really shoot up. Some cuckoo clocks sell as low as 100 dollars, while some can even cost more than 15,000 dollars. If you own an antique cuckoo clock then you can get a good value for it.

What Are Different Parts Inside A Cuckoo Clock?

As discussed, a cuckoo clock houses the following things:

  • Clock movement that has all the levers, gears, nuts, bolts, etc.
  • Two bellows to produce the sound
  • Different chains to hang weights
  • Weights in the shape of pinecones
  • Wooden numbers and markers to represent hours, minutes, and seconds
  • Wooden bird
  • Pendulum, etc.


How Does A Cuckoo Clock Mechanism Work?

The cuckoo clock mechanism works like any other clock. However, it does have some added complications.

Do Cuckoo Clocks Cuckoo Every Hour?

Yes, cuckoo clocks cuckoo every hour. But it can vary from clock to clock, some cuckoo clock even cuckoos every half an hour.

How Long Do Cuckoo Clocks Last?

Cuckoo clocks can last for generations if maintained well.

How Much Does A Cuckoo Clock Cost?

Some cuckoo clocks cost as low as $100 while some can cost more than $15,000.

What Kind Of Bird Is In A Cuckoo Clock?

The bird in a cuckoo clock is generally made of wood.

Tom Nielson

Tom's love for watches started when his grandfather gifted him his Rolex watch when he turned 18! Being a teenager it was a big deal for him. Later when he got his first job he bought Fossil Palm Pilot back in 2003 which was a smartwatch. Since then smartwatches have come a long way and so is Tom's love for them. His experience with watches inspired him to start Wearholic and share his knowledge of wearables including watches, smartwatches, smart glasses, & smart clothing.

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