Like you, I did a lot of research - including taking a knife skills class at Sur la Table so I could use several brands. I cook about every night with the weekends spent smoking on my 18.5 WSM. Here are my opinions:
- Global: very light, too light in fact. Rubber nub bed handle felt odd to me and the handle was a little small. No bolster, only matters if you like them.
- Henckels Four Star: A top quality German knife with a classic rocker blade. Just a touch heavy for my taste, but a solid choice. Full bolster with a large comfortable handle but with a larger butt.
-Victorinox: very nice knife, well balanced with the bolster as part of the handle. Lighter knife.
-Wusthof Ikon Classic: Another solid German knife with a semi-bolster, medium size handle with a stainless steel cap. Also very solid knife with good balance
I opted for the Wusthof and have been very happy with it. It holds an edge well, requiring frequent honing, but has only needed a new edge twice in 11 months. I opted for the 8" model because I was unsure of my skill level. I now wish I had gone larger as several articles suggested. Your skills will grow as you use it and the additional length is useful periodically. Be aware that the largest Wusthof Ikon Classic chef knife is 9", versus the more common 10".
Hope this helps, good luck Chopper!
KCBS: CBJ, CTC
WSM 18.5, Broilmaster D3 natural gas (in-ground), Weber OTG (upgraded silver), Stoker ATM, Maverick ET-733 & 732 thermometers and Red Thermapen