Here in Spain we have a saying to mark that something works perfectly, we say that it works like a Swiss watch. Is there any equivalent expression in English?

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    It all depends on what exactly you mean by when something works perfectly fine. Are you talking about a certain process proceeding smoothly or a mechanical device working the way it's supposed to be working? You really need to narrow down your requirement as there are a million expressions in English that could fit that description: work out, go like clockwork, work like a charm, work like magic etc. The list literally goes on. Apr 5, 2018 at 15:20
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    Work like a well-oiled machine would work as well.
    – DoWhileNot
    Apr 5, 2018 at 15:26
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    @RubioRic They're all "either/or" expressions, so to speak. Meaning, each of them is usually only used in one type of situation and not the other. Personally, I can't think of a phrase that's general enough to cover both of the situations that I described in my earlier comment. Apr 5, 2018 at 15:35
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    "Like a Swiss watch" is perfectly acceptable in English too, and means the same thing.
    – stangdon
    Apr 5, 2018 at 16:07
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    Just to add a comment, in Serbian we also say "like a Swiss watch" :)
    – vtomic85
    Apr 6, 2018 at 19:53

3 Answers 3


I like the expression to work like a charm:

If something works like a charm, it is very successful or effective.

Although the expression is general enough that it can be used in a lot of different situations, I probably would not use it to describe how well electronic or mechanical devices work. You can use it to talk about software, however. For example:

That antivirus package that you recommended really fixed my computer. It helped me get rid of all the malware and adware that I had on it. The thing really worked like a charm.

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    This is a very reasonable suggestion that adds good insight to the issue, but I'm curious why the asker thought this best answered the question. IMHO there are subtle differences between the two phrases. To work like a swiss watch is a comment on the smooth and precise functionality of a machine. To work like a charm is an expression referring to anything having a seemingly miraculous effect, regardless of how that effect is accomplished. Apr 6, 2018 at 18:13
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    @DarrenRinger You have defined exactly what I was looking for in your second explanation. As I explained in the comments above, the main point is in "anything" not just a mechanical device. That's the reason for me to not accept the other answers. I was not looking for the exact translation nor the ones implying clocks
    – RubioRic
    Apr 6, 2018 at 19:44
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    @Myridium I don't get what you mean. I got a handful of answers and I have picked the one that I think that match more precisely what I was looking for. That is how these sites work
    – RubioRic
    Apr 7, 2018 at 4:08
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    @RubioRic - that's not quite how it's supposed to work. Your question serves to help other people with the same question. Now other people will visit this Q&A looking for an equivalent expression to works like a Swiss watch and the answer you picked is not the most appropriate one. You need to edit your question to reflect what you're actually asking, not just append additional comments. Comments are not part of the Q&A canon, that is how all these stack exchange sites work.
    – Myridium
    Apr 7, 2018 at 4:56
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    @RubioRic - now if someone comes here genuinely looking for an equivalent expression without shifting the goal posts, they will not be able to, because people will flag their question as duplicate. Fortunately in this case there is an acceptable answer present, but if there wasn't, then that question becomes 'dead' territory, where no good answer can belong on this site, meaning you would have effectively destroyed the opportunity for someone to ask the question you are only claiming to ask.
    – Myridium
    Apr 7, 2018 at 5:00

Yes, in English, you can say: x runs as smoothly as a Swiss watch.

This can be checked by googling to see sites where the expression occurs.

There are, of course, many other expressions in English for this meaning.

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    Alas, to a younger person these day, this may be as puzzling as "You sound like a broken record." "What's a broken record?" Are any smartwatches coming out of Switzerland? Apr 5, 2018 at 16:26
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    @RubioRic There are tons of expressions that live on despite technological change. Have you ever heard: It's time to hit the hay? That dates back around 300 years.....
    – Lambie
    Apr 5, 2018 at 16:42
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    @Lambie Right. The same applies to avoiding something like the plague. I have never seen any cases of the plague ...
    – Tsundoku
    Apr 5, 2018 at 16:46
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    The image for saving a document still typically involves a 3.5 inch floppy disk. Apr 5, 2018 at 19:17
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    @ChristopheS - I'm not old enough to remember it, but sliced bread must have been one helluva innovation.
    – J.R.
    Apr 5, 2018 at 19:46

In English, there are many ways to express that something works perfectly fine, here are some (these pertain to situations when something happens without any problems at all):

to go like clockwork [verb phrase] - if something you have arranged such as an event or journey goes like clockwork, it happens in exactly the way that was planned, with no problems at all

  • After all that fuss, everything went like clockwork. You should have seen it.
  • ‘Everything go all right?’ ‘Like clockwork.’
  • All through that summer, work on the farm went like clockwork.

to go smoothly [verb phrase] - if a planned event, journey, piece of work etc goes smoothly, there are no problems to spoil it

  • If all goes smoothly, elections are expected in May.
  • In rehearsal, everything went smoothly, even the difficult fight scenes.
  • My presentation went remarkably smoothly, until one student asked an awkward question right at the end.

without a hitch [adverb] - if a planned action or event happens without a hitch, it happens exactly as planned with no problems at all, even though some may have been expected

  • The first phase of the operation was completed without a hitch.

to go according to plan [verb phrase] - if something that has been carefully planned goes according to plan, it happens in exactly the way you planned it would

  • Development of our new computer system is going according to plan and it should be in operation by October.

But, of course, you can put it in another way by using the following adverbial phrases. Be careful, they can only be used in a specific context:

like a dream


with no trouble

  • Variation on the first one: "run/ran like clockwork" instead of "go like clockwork" Apr 6, 2018 at 14:06
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    "Like a well-oiled machine"
    – LawrenceC
    Apr 6, 2018 at 14:44
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    – KRyan
    Apr 6, 2018 at 15:14

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