(Another imperfect analogy: cars are often status symbols. My Sebenza lives in my pocket, and it's surely not the best way to show off disposable income!)
I've been carrying my Sebenza almost every day for about two and a half years; coincidentally, about as long as my Aqua Terra. Neither is jewelry to me; they're not fancy, and I don't baby them… the scratches attest to that!
I'd be unhappy if I lost either, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to use them. Having three $100 knives doesn't bring me the pleasure that I get from the right $350 knife… and my Sebenza has certainly seen more work than any four of my other knives! There are plenty of people on this forum who put their Sebenzas to good use… even ones with damascus blades and wood inlays.
I think the two knives are incomparable because they don't target the same consumers. You're an example: there are people out there who think it's ridiculous to spend more than $150 on a knife, when a cheaper one will do the job just as well. (There are plenty who think it's ridiculous to spend more than $15, of course…).
Conversely, there are people who think it absolutely makes sense to get the best, and have the money to do so. Trying to compare the two ultimately comes down to two perspectives:
• "The Sebenza has unparalleled fit and finish, decades of expertise behind it, is easily maintained in the field, and Chris Reeve will always service it for you; it's absolutely worth the money."
• "The Sage II is such great value: a Ti framelock with superb ergos for half the price of a Sebenza! Why would you spend more? After all, I'm never going to send it in for refinishing, or give it to my kids…"
Sitting outside is the ordinary Joe with a cheap Buck or Gerber from Home Depot, looking at all of us like we're crazy