Isn't this perception of refinement mostly the result of the different models attempting to explain the same phenomena though (phenomena that are of course happening regardless of the theory we use to explain them)? As such, later theories would typically "contain" earlier ones as special cases or approximations. I think this is a weird use of the word refinement though, as if a plane would be a refinement of a line. I don't know, but I can't help but feel that calling e.g. relativity and quantum mechanics refinements seriously undervalues how important these theories have been, not just as mathematical curiosities but also in how we view the world, and how impressive feats of mind and science they are.