The same show is repeated every hour on the hour. A striking mechanism pushes a little wooden bird into position and simultaneously raises two small bellows that emit air through two lip pipes: "Cuckoo!" For 300 years the people in the German Black Forest delivered handmade cuckoo clocks all over the world. That said, masses of other clocks have been produced here, from alarm clocks to parking meters. The "Deutsche Uhrenstraße" (lit: German Clock Street) shows the extent to which this traditional trade made its mark on the region. The street combines such different attractions as the "watchmaker´s cottage" in Vöhrenbach, with the Clock Industry Museum in Schwenningen, whose many fully-working machines tell visitors about everyday life in the factory around 1900. And on your way, if you want, you can watch cuckoo-clock makers at work. Finally the German Clock Museum in Furtwangen offers visitors a comprehensive overall view of clock making in the region. Its 150-year-old collection of Black Forest clocks is the most comprehensive collection of its type in the whole world. Along with its rich stock of international clocks, the museum provides a multifaceted picture of the history and technology of the phenomenon of time.
There is no limit to the huge variety of figures to be found in historic Black Forest clocks: from people eating dumplings, via lovers with rolling eyes to patrolling sentinels. Other models ring out with the cries of quails, cockerels and cuckoos. The only ones that have stood the test of time are the cuckoo clocks. Nowadays they probably don´t even come from the Black Forest; nonetheless this is where they began their triumphant march throughout the world.
Right from the start, clockmakers in the Black Forest had the world market in their sights. Between 1700 and 1800 they exported one million wooden clocks, before technological progress and a change in taste put the small regional businesses on the defensive. True, master clockmakers, apprentices and trainees were still in a position to make 18 similar clocks a week around the middle of the 19th century; but this failed to prevent the onset of a crisis in the Black Forest clockmaking industry. In order to unify production, a clock-making school by the name of the "Großherzogliche Badische Uhrmacherschule Furtwangen" was created in 1850. The immediate result was the creation of small handicrafts factories specialising in catering for select demands. The future, however, belonged to firms like Junghans or Mauthe, who gambled on American methods and set new standards with their mass manufacture of clocks and metal alarm clocks. Between 1880 and 1980 hundreds of millions of clocks were made in this manner. And when the cheaper quartz clock arrived – this was also a pioneering achievement by clockmakers in the Black Forest – to conquer the mass market in the 1970s, the numbers of clocks manufactured exceeded the billion mark. It was only when prices began to fall rapidly that this lightning development came to an end.
Nowadays clock-making in the Black Forest is little more than a niche product. Many companies in the region, however use the know-how for modern products in micro and medical technology or the synthetics industry.
|Recommended duration of visit:||1,5 Hours|
|Duration of a guided tour:||60 Minutes|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||Available|
|Infrastructure for children:|
|Visitor centre on site:||yes|
|Gift and book shop on site:||yes|
April to October:
November to March: