The Big Crunch

It looked like a send-up of a Timex-watch commercial. In the parking lot of the U.S. federal building in West Los Angeles, an eight-ton steamroller moved back and forth over a pavement strewn with more than 4,000 wristwatches. Yet, when the torture stopped, not a watch was ticking.

Thus went Operation Big Crunch, endorsed by none other than the august French jewelry firm of Cartier. The stunt was aimed at discouraging the lucrative rip-off of luxury goods through counterfeiting. The crushed timepieces, which will go on display in Cartier stores around the world, were phony renditions of the company's famous $650 Tank...

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