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Remarkable clocks and watches: The cuckoo clock

Cuckoo clocks for sale in Interlaken

Not a Swiss product, but clichés are stronger than fact... Cuckoo clocks for sale in Interlaken© swissworld.org

How to annoy the Swiss - the cuckoo clock

Contrary to popular belief, the cuckoo clock has nothing at all to do with Switzerland. It was invented in the Black Forest of southern Germany in 1738, the area which is still the centre of their production.

However, since tourists expect to find cuckoo clocks in Switzerland, find them they do.

This was evidently already true in the middle of the 19th century, as the American writer Mark Twain discovered. He perpetuated the misconception. Here is what he wrote in "A Tramp Abroad" in the chapter on Lucerne:

"For years my pet aversion had been the cuckoo clock; now here I was, at last, right in the creature`s home; so wherever I went that distressing "HOO hoo! HOO hoo! HOO hoo!" was always in my ears... Some sounds are hatefuler than others, but no sound is quite so inane, and silly, and aggravating as the "HOO hoo" of a cuckoo clock, I think. I bought one, and am carrying it home to a certain person; for I have always said that if the opportunity ever happened, I would do that man an ill turn. What I meant, was, that I would break one of his legs, or something of that sort; but in Lucerne I instantly saw that I could impair his mind. That would be more lasting, and more satisfactory every way. So I bought the cuckoo clock; and if I ever get home with it, he is "my meat," as they say in the mines."

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