People who wear $40K watches are good at spotting $40K watches. Just like anyone on this forum is able to spot someone wearing CPs, MMM GATs, Schneider knits, RO leathers, etc. The difference being that to belong to the $40K watch club, you have to be, almost without exception, wealthy and successful. That's a powerful message to communicate to that exclusive group of people. That's all I'm saying.
I don't run in rich and important circles, but this kind of thing strikes me as the sort of idea that people out-of-power have about how people-in-power work.
I suppose to your analogy, I can't imagine ever networking with someone, and then leaving with the idea "well, he had on MMM GATs, so he's definitely someone I need to take seriously."