Chiming in, as a ye olde RWG member and a very part-time poster here these days.
I recall my first time joining the old RWG. I'd just shelled out about $800 on some scam site for a AAA++ Sub. Needless to say that $800 was an investment never fulfilled. I discovered RWG and I was up and away! Jumped straight in with an MBW DRSD, with Palpatine mods (whatever happened to him?)
Dabbled quite seriously with genuine vintage Rolex, as many of you would have seen (DRSD/5513/1675/16760/6263), but always had an eye on the rep world.
Prices have ebbed and flowed with the 'watch du jour', whether it be the Hublot hype, or the AP obsession. Dealers would charge whatever they saw fit at the time of the latest craze.
Gone are the days of the affordable bit of fun with reps. Market forces, world economics, the changes in the Chinese economy, etc. Whatever. I'm sure that affordable, quality reps could still be produced and sold, however the wider cartel activity and attitude to our little world has changed, and with it the new attitude with new collectors. If they charge it, they will buy. There's no history, no previous experience nor expectations. The insta-generation rules.
I have 2 reps left, after a decade or so of buying and selling. Despite what it says in my signature (which for some reason I can't see how to edit), I have my modded PAM243, and a new-ish V2 of the Rolex red Sea Dweller - both of which I love, but I don't wear. After spending $500 or so on the Rolex, I had a reality-check. I really love the watch, its quality and it's look and feel. But I'm getting more joy out of SEIKO.
SEIKO has been a revelation to me over the last couple of months. Just the variety, and the quality is amazing. You can build an amazing, genuine collection which will hold their value (and sometimes appreciate, if you buy smart). Their vintage catalogue is massive. Google 'SEIKO POGUE' as an example - such history, such beauty.
You can pick up a PADI turtle for around $250 lightly used with boxes, etc on WUS and such like. Add a Crafter Blue rubber, and an Uncle Seiko Z199 jubilee (see my pics below), and a NATO, and for under $400 you've got a quality genuine diver with 4 strap changes.
The reissue turtle family is pretty cool. They're a 44mm watch that sits very comfortable on the wrist and wears smaller due to the dial size. You can modify them cheaply, with dials/bezels/inserts/chapter rings/crystals/straps/crowns, and get a whole lot of different looks. There are forums and FB pages dedicated to this. Loads of fun, for relatively little expense.
And the turtle has a history dating back to the 70's. You can still pick up originals for a couple hundred bucks.
The Samurai is also a great watch. Not so many options to mod, but it's a unique watch that looks far more expensive than it is. I picked up my PADI samurai for $379AUD BNIB in a Starbuy sale last month.
That's all I've got. I still love the rep world, but maybe for what it was rather than what it's become. If something catches my eye, and it costs less than a new turtle, then I may jump back in for a dip.