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Going Cuckoo: Swiss Art Students Reinterpret The Iconic Cuckoo Clock

Back to the Trees

This modern interpretation is titled "Back to the Trees" and features a bird's nest from which the cuckoos emerge and sing.


A new exhibition was on display at the recent SIHH Watch Show in Geneva. Coordinated and created by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, the traveling display is designed to put a new twist on the centuries-old watchmaking tradition. In fact, each year, the FHH coordinates an enlightening exhibit (we have witnessed astronomy and watches, pocket watches, clocks, and so much more over the years) — and this year's installation was definitely one to sing out about — and one to make us think about old-world timing in new ways. Called “24 Hours in the Life of a Swiss Cuckoo Clock,” the exhibit pays homage to the iconic object of folklore and precision clocks — Cuckoo Clocks — with roots dating back hundreds of years to the Black Forest. The exhibit showcases 24 intriguing cuckoo clocks that were designed and built by art students at HEAD-Genève (Geneva University of Art and Design) in an effort to reinvent the mid-18th century Swiss cuckoo clock.

hanging "fruit."

This rendition features a bird atop a metal tree with hanging "fruit."

Historically, cuckoo clocks were designed to chirp the time — with a bit of whimsy, wit and wonder. Early cuckoo clocks generally had a cuckoo bird that popped its head out of door on the hour or moved in and out of a clock door on the hour. The idea of the new exhibit is to keep the allure of the cuckoo making an hourly appearance, but to translate the bird, its song and its dwelling into modern times. In total, 18 Fashion, Jewelry and Accessories students and six HEAD teachers contributed works to this exhibit. Here we bring you a look at a few of our favorite artistic depictions of the cuckoo.

the country chalet for a city apartment dwelling

Here, the cuckoos have left the country chalet for a city apartment dwelling.