Thanks for sharing the journey and experience.
I can share the sentiment that in some (or many) cases the chase is as good as the catch, and sometimes (like in this case) it’s better.
For me, I have a Sea-Dweller which was my first Rolex. I find the Subs or the same era (5-digit) always fall short of the SD on the wrist and don’t seem anywhere near as appealing. And if one is comparing or choosing between two similar watches (black dial, black bezel) the SD wins always for me. I think this is why my Subs do not look like my SD (Kermit and Hulk), and so that difference is enough for me to not have this same dilemma of the SD being the superior or preferred watch on the wrist.
I think I still have room for a vintage Sub, matte dial and so on. This would be a different animal and I don’t think would fall into the same comparison with the SD.
Of course as you point out, your mileage may vary !