Rolex are overrated. kinda like the Creeds of watches. They are iconic, true, but that is the product of a very smart marketing team. The submariner is a great sports watch but that is it. The average Rolex collector will rave about its steel 9XX, but the steel they are made of is not much stronger or harder than the steel in a Seiko monster. Besides, who worries that much about the nanoscopic hardness of the steel you wear on your wrist!
Good complications, interesting dials, comfort, innovation and artistic equilibrium
(I mean real horology) are better found in another brands... some are even less expensive than Rolex. The only good collection is the Cellini, if you ask me. Seiko, for example, is so underrated that the company will not bring the best of their brand to the USA. They could never compete with the image that the marketing teams of occidental brands have created.
COSC certification is not that hard to meet after you calibrate an individual watch. I calibrated both Seiko 5's (60 USD each) shown above, and they meet the two most important criteria of COSC*: Average daily rate and Difference between Horizontal and Vertical positions. I have not tested for the other criteria, because I really do not care. Rolex are great if you want to impress two kinds of people: Rolex fans and those who are not into horology.
The other brand I am not too enthusiast about is Panerai... I mean... paying +5000 dollars for a simplistic watch using a 21-jewel movement that cost a couple hundreds of dollars... mmmm no. Not all of them use the same movement but still. I think they make the statement "HEY! I paid a fortune for this, so you better look at it, darn it!"
But that is just me... anything that costs over 100usd is more a matter of subjective taste than real performance improvement.
*If worn regularly.
Edit: After sleeping on it, I realized I am coming out as some of the jerks found in watch forums (though a good number of members are cool). Sorry
. It is just that after my failed attempt to become a collector and a horology enthusiast, I had to make too many rationalizations. Watches, even more than perfume, are a matter of personal taste.