At just five years of age, as a fifth generational worker, Christophe Herr began carving clocks in the family’s clock shop. For ten years, he sat next to his father and grandfather, three generations of clock makers in one room working side by side. LIttle Christophe learned well. Today in southwestern Germany, he stands as a master craftsman at his worktable, renewing the old techniques of Black Forest carving and refinishing.
The quality of Christophe’s work today is a lot like the cuckoo clocks of the last half of the nineteenth century, the clocks that made the Black Forest famous. It’s the degree of detail, the beauty of the carving and the complexity of the design that raise his modern timepieces to the same artistic level of the Wehrle and Beha clocks, for which connoisseurs are now paying in the range of ten thousand dollars each.
Christophe’s clocks embody both delicacy and power and are set apart from all the other modern day brands. Recently, I spoke with Dolf Kemper, the USA distributor of Christophe clocks, “if you compare a Christophe cuckoo clock to another well known brand,” he said, “it’s like comparing the difference between a Bentley and Mercedes. Both cars are high quality, but the Bentley is at the top. If you’re looking to buy a new carved cuckoo clock and want the top one percent in artistry, it would be a Christophe. Of course the price is higher due to the extra time and effort it takes to make one.” The above photo shows the incredible detail of the 8399S model, now in production, and will be available late this summer. Call for details.
Just how much time is extra time? Well, each masterpiece takes about six months to finish. It’s all done the unhurried, old-fashioned way. No sprayed-on finishes for these clocks; each one has an authentic hand-rubbed, antique wax finish. This is an extremely labor intensive process, and it takes several days and several hand applications to complete just this part. Another reason for the lengthy production time is Christophe’s “one-man-one-clock” approach. He believes strongly that the best results come when only one person carves the entire clock. “When one person makes a clock, not a line of people, it always looks special,” Christophe said. That’s why he does all the woodworking himself, from the beginning to the end.
You can see what we mean in this behind-the-scenes video below. Take a tour of the Christophe shop and watch a master clock maker in action.
Christophe Interview: smithjournal.com.au
Photo #1 – Christophe Cuckoo Clock – The Hart and Hound Model
Photo # 2- Christophe Gothic Design Cuckoo Clock