Swiss cuckoo clocks – an example of Switzerland's spirit of innovation

Two typical Swiss cuckoo clocks next to each other
The Swiss cuckoo clock face typically sports a Swiss cross. © Lötscher AG

Musical boxes with a clockwork mechanism and a cuckoo – people all over the world love the Swiss cuckoo clock. And the craft goes back generations.

Swiss cuckoo clocks are a prime example of Switzerland's spirit of innovation. The country began producing the world-renowned clock in the village of Brienz in the Bernese Oberland before it went on to be further developed and modernised.

The skilled craftsmanship of the Brienzer artists, noted for their woodcarving and intricate music boxes in the shape of wooden chalets, has been famous for hundreds of years.  And the inspiration for this design? From their own homes, the Swiss alpine chalet.

In 1920, what is now the Robert Lötscher company began to produce its own cuckoo clock model. Drawing on Switzerland's innovative and creative spirit, the designers added a clockwork mechanism and cuckoo to the music box –  creating the world's beloved Swiss chalet cuckoo clock.  Later, a specially composed musical work was also built into the cuckoo clock.

Swiss cross on the clockface

The Robert Löscher company has been producing Swiss chalet cuckoo clocks since it was founded almost one hundred years ago. The clocks continue to be made in exactly the same way and symbolise the Swiss eye for quality. And there is something else that makes a Lötscher clock an authentic piece of Switzerland – the sand and stones used to make the decorative flowers come from the Lake Brienz.

Genuine Swiss cuckoo clocks can only be purchased in selected specialist stores throughout Switzerland and can be recognised by the Swiss cross adorning the clockface.  

In 2013, two Swiss industrial designers founded the Lausanne-based Swiss Koo company, which has injected a fresh note into the cuckoo clock industry with its modern take on the traditional clock.