In most languages, German and English included, certain nouns interact with verbs in set ways. You can't just change the meaning of a common phrase because the verb has multiple meanings. If you wanted to say "We place the clocks", you would have to explain where you are putting them, so that your meaning isn't ambiguous. "Wir stellen die Uhren auf den Tisch". for example, is "We place the clocks on the table". It's exactly the same in English, you could say "We set the clocks", and it would mean ONLY setting them to the time. But you could say "We set the clocks on the table", and it would mean "We place the clocks on the table".