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Heads Up: Watch for Wild Animals

April 09, 1999|FRANCESCA CASTAGNOLI

There are four tenets of great Japanese design: Be cute, be functional, be plastic and, most importantly, be collectible. Encompassing all of these qualities is a collection of digital and analog watches in alligator, panther, zebra and giraffe prints, designed by Zucca, a former Issey Miyake designer who approaches the design of watches much like he does his unusual but remarkably wearable clothing (imagine the utilitarian A.P.C. crossed with artsy Commes des Garcons). Each year he introduces a limited-edition watch series, creating a frenzy of excitement for Zucca fans in Japan.

But Stephan Allen, who sold the last series, Zucca Chocolat, at his Stephan Allen boutique in Soho, said the customers who first appreciated the wide, plastic, tech-y watches in brown, blue and green were people who had traveled to the Pacific Rim. Unlike the sporty G-shock and gold-plated digital Bulova, Zucca doesn't take his watches--or fashion, for that matter--too seriously.

This year trendsetters and early adopters have caught on because Zucca reports that sales for the Safari 2000 collection are brisk. The analog watches are slim and simple, while the digital watches feature an illuminated face with an alarm and stopwatch. An extra feature on the digital alligator watch: The large plastic head snaps at the buckle. But the best thing about them, according to Allen, is that they even look good when they've been beaten up. So cool, in fact, you'll still want to wear yours next year.

Adopt your own panther, zebra, alligator or giraffe at Naked, 181 N. Martel Avenue, L.A. (323) 964-0222.

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