Swiss Watching trivia, No 29: Cuckoo clocks

August 29, 2010, No comments

I blame Orson Welles. He linked Switzerland with the cuckoo clock forever when he ad-libbed those famous lines in the film The Third Man damning the Swiss as peaceful democrats and clockmakers.  Nice speech but so wrong. The cuckoo clock is a German creation, traditionally made in the Black Forest around the towns of Schonach, Triberg and Furtwangen;  they even have competing candidates for the largest cuckoo clock in the world.


Switzerland did at least adopt a local style of clock, ditching the heavy German ones adorned with carved flora and fauna; instead a typical Swiss one is chalet-shaped and has rotating wooden figures, usually in traditional dress. Most of those on sale in souvenir shops come from the Far East, but that doesn’t stop the tourists buying them. Or the Swiss selling them. For a real Swiss cuckoo clock, look for the handcarved ones from Brienz in the Berner Oberland, though they cost between 200 and 2000 Francs.

Leave a Comment