Black Forest Clock Association

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Left, early (1987-2006) & right, modern (post 2006) VDS seals on clocks originating from a manufacturer in the Black Forest Region registered with the syndicate. (Designed by artist Benno Gasche from Schonach).

In 1987 a syndicate was set up to protect traditional mechanical cuckoo clock making in the Black Forest region. The "Verein die Schwarzwalduhr" (VDS) issues authenticity certification (echtheitszertifikat) to members of the association. Verein die Schwarzwalduhr literally means "The Black Forest Clock Association". If a Black Forest clockmaker desires, they can obtain accreditation from the syndicate.

Certification from the association is awarded only to mechanical clocks made entirely of wood (except the movements), with all essential parts produced in the Black Forest and that meet quality controls set by the association.

The members of the association represent around 90% of all producers of Black Forest Clocks, the majority of the world's mechanical cuckoo clock manufacture. Clocks made by a company registered with the association are entitled to display the seal on their products.

In 2006 the association's seal was awarded a protection of trade mark by the German trade mark office and can therefore bear the ® symbol. VDS claim that over 300,000 clocks with the seal have been sold in the last few years, the majority of which to customers in North America. (See: VDS website). This acts as a useful way to date a clock bearing the seal, as any seal with the ® symbol must be post 2006.

Even German cuckoo clock manufacturers registered with VDS certification also produce battery powered quartz movement cuckoo clocks. These clocks are less expensive and require less servicing for the end user. However, quartz or solar movement clocks made by these same manufacturers cannot bear the VDS seal even though their mechanical movement models do display the seal.

Every year the VDS awards the "cuckoo clock of the year" to one of the members of the association. The award has been running since 2001. The "cuckoo clock of the year" award has been granted 13 times with August Schwer, a family-run clockmaker business located in Schoenwalk, winning the most out of all with a total of five times. (See: Cuckoo Clock of the Year - Complete Winner List)

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