Hold on to your watches, gentlemen, as more women are opting to wear large, chunky men's models

For the trend-conscious woman, the face has to be right and size matters. As men's watches grow larger and flashier, women are abandoning feminine timepieces in favour of oversized blokes' models.

Jemima Khan's wristwear hit the headlines last week when she revealed that she had called time on her relationship with Hugh Grant after the watch he gave her stopped. Grant bought her the watch, from the male brand Panerai, when they first started dating.

Victoria Beckham, Myleene Klass and Trinny Woodall have been spotted wearing big men's watches. Industry experts say the fashion reflects a wider trend, typified by Kate Moss, for larger watches and chunky metallic cuffs – dubbed "arm-our" by one fashion magazine. But there is also increasing interest among women in the technical side of timekeeping.

A spokeswoman for Panerai, which does not actually make a women's model, said 10 to 15 per cent of the company's UK customer base was female.

Lisa Butcher, presenter of BBC1's What Not to Wear and owner of a men's Ebel, said the appeal was basic. "I've only ever worn men's watches. I'm not really into too delicate jewellery, whether it's watches or other types of jewellery."

The 6ft model said smaller watches get "lost" on her and, conversely, warned small-boned women to be careful with big accessories. "I think people are going more for men's clunky watches because you can make more of a statement with it," she added. "It also balances out the arm if you are wearing a nice cuff.

"Nowadays when you design things it's much better to design for a unisex market."

Jason Yorke-Edgell, managing director of Ebel, said the brand was "doing a lot more development work on large watches for women" as a reaction to the trend. "I think it makes the move from a watch being a functional item to something that is not something just to tell the time but is a reflection of you," he said. "People are looking for watches that have a personality."

Mr Yorke-Edgell said although some celebrities thought bigger watches made their arms look thinner, it was not just aesthetics driving the craze. He claimed women were becoming more interested in a watch as a mechanical instrument and a "working piece of art".

The style guru Peter York said the phenomenon had widened out from a trend started in the 1960s. "It looks good," he added. "It's good classic style; it's simple." He added that most men would not know how to talk to a "throwback woman of the 1950s" with her "teeny, tiny watch held on by a bracelet".

Dedicated followers of fashion are copying the likes of Madonna and Naomi Campbell and donning ToyWatch's oversized plastic timepieces. "ToyWatch is quite big at the moment," said Stefan Lindemann, shopping editor at Grazia. "As it's a bigger watch, women are tending to wear it with a nice summer dress to offset the masculinity of the watch, which works much better than wearing a small watch.

"I think they look quite sexy. A watch should really be part of your main wardrobe along with a wedding ring or earrings."

Marc Jacobs recently unveiled his new Emprise watches for Louis Vuitton with the aim of tapping into the new trend. "I don't believe in gender when it comes to accessories," he told Vogue. "I'd like women to sport the most determinedly masculine model and vice versa."

ToyWatch's founder, Marco Mavilla, added it was now fashionable for some men to opt for more "bling". "I have a ladies' version and a men's version, but sometimes there's a mix."

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