Clock Facts  
Alarm Clocks from the Black Forest
American-Style Movement W 10, Junghans, c. 1890 (Inv. 2008-058)
Arthur Junghans ( 1852-1920)
Bell-back alarm clock, “Kolibri”, Mauthe, Schwenningen 1950’s (Inv. 1995-353)
The “portable” Kienzle alarm clock of 1971 set standards in plastic design for both movement and case (Inv. 1995-745)
Chrometron CQ 2000, the first low-priced quartz movement from the Black Forest, Staiger, St. Georgen, as from 1971 (Inv. 2006-134)
Industrial Mass Production in the Black Forest

The US system of industrial mass production established itself at the end of the 19th century.
The movements of the innovative “American-style clocks” were far different from those made according to traditional clock-making principles. These new clocks were made in keeping with the industrial system of producing in series. New materials, such as rolled brass, and special machine tools expedited the manufacture of clock and watch movements considerably and, as a result, reduced manufacturing costs.

Arthur Junghans set new standards in the mid-1880s with his W 10-calibre alarm clock movement. It was inexpensive, sturdy and, in contrast with most American-style clocks, could be repaired by clockmakers who, while critical of mass-produced products until then, began selling the American-style clocks.
This clever move catapulted Junghans into becoming the largest European clock factory. For 50 years, the W 10 was used in the majority of all Junghans clocks. It was copied by many other companies who thus benefited from Junghans’ success.
Thanks to the alarm clock, the Black Forest, which had supplied the world with low-priced wooden clocks in the 19th century, again became the market leader for low-priced clocks.

The Alarm Clock’s “New Clothes”

The basic principle of the American-style clock movement remained substantially the same until 1970. However, the appearance of the alarm clocks and the design of the movement continued to evolve.
The basic alarm clock shape is the bell-style (so-called “baby”) alarm clock. Its round “body” has a bell on top. As from the 1920’s, this feature was cut back. With the   bell-back alarm clock, the entire case would ring.  In the post-war period, folding alarm clocks were a popular travel item.
Later on, particularly quiet movements inside the clocks permitted undisturbed sleep. Yet the alarm clock would wake people up as they wished, either with an ear-piercing sound or, instead, with a low but steadily increasing volume.

The Clock Industry Does Away with Itself

Thanks to transistor technology, battery-powered clock movements that did not have to be wound became popular in the 1960’s. Due to “rotating torsion movements”, the electromagnetically propelled direct drive of the balance wheel relieved the gear mechanism. Instead of being made of metal, as before, toothed wheels could now be made of plastic.
This new material induced many companies to cut back on their work force. Those who adhered to the more complicated metalworking techniques were left behind. That is why long-standing companies, such as Mauthe, Blessing and Kaiser went bankrupt in the 1970’s.
Affordable quartz movements for alarm clocks as well as table clocks and wall clocks initially came from the Black Forest. Due to automated manufacturing, by 1980 fully electronic clocks had become cheaper than the customary mechanical or electromechanical movements. These cost-cutting measures also resulted in the loss of many jobs.
As from 1990, there were no longer any more ways of reducing manufacturing costs. Black Forest prices could no longer compete with those of the Far East. The companies either had to switch to new products or capitulate. The clock industry in the Black Forest had done away with itself.