synchronize our watches


Senior Member
Slovenia, Slovenian
Hello everyone!

I'm translating Cecily von Ziegesar's Gossip Girl. I came across an expression written above. The sentence goes:
"Just to be safe, we should all synchronize our watches. If we aren't careful, S is going to win over our teachers, wear that dress we couldn't fit into, eat the last olive, (...)"
The story is about B, a girl who is about to become less popular in her school and among her crowd because S, her former best friend, is back from a boarding school. The fact that she got kicked out of it makes her even more mysterious. B, of course, feels threatened by that.
Need any more context? I'm not sure it helps much though. And my question is: does this expression have only a literal meaning or is there a figurative one? I'm guessing that because, I mean, why would they synchronize their watches? Does it mean something like "to start from scratch"? I'd be very grateful for any suggestions. :)
  • Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Literally, it means to set our watches to precisely the same time. That way, we can expect our next actions to be coordinated.
    I haven't heard it used in this particular way before, but it "feels" ok to me, as as substitute for the more common expression "make sure we're all on the same page." This, in turn, means to agree to coordinate our actions, and all behave in a consistent way.


    Senior Member
    Castellano, Argentina
    Before doing something that needs precision (for instance, a synchronized attack)... to have the navy watches and the army watches set with a 3 minute difference could prove disastrous. In order to avoid that they must "synchronize their watches".

    By extension, to plan everything to be done with perfect coordination between all the parts.


    To "synchronize our watches" means that everyone's watch is set to the same time. In speech it means to make sure "we are all thinking the same way", or "we are all working to the same plan". Sometimes it is found in a similar expression, "all singing off the same hymn sheet".
    The expression comes from the military - where different untis of an attacking force could be sure that they didn't attack too early, or too late, to upset a plan.