Jimmy McIlroy received his MBE and on a red-letter day at Turf Moor first Burnley goals from Charlie Austin and Keith Treacy capped a fighting comeback to secure a dramatic opening-day point.
Playing legend McIlroy was honoured on the pitch before kick-off and in thanking his extended Burnley 'family' expressed his wish for a win to make the occasion complete.
His modern day successors in claret and blue couldn't quite deliver the goods. But having trailed 2-0 with just 13 minutes of normal time to go they managed to carve out a result that sustained the feel-good feeling.
That had looked unlikely when Craig Forsyth and Mark Yeates struck after 45 and 70 minutes to seemingly give Watford an upbeat start to the season for new boss Sean Dyche.
But the introduction of Treacy provided the spark for a storming finish as the former Preston and Blackburn Rovers winger announced his arrival at Turf Moor in the near perfect manner.
Treacy's presence helped add a further cutting edge to Eddie Howe's side and after having a hand in Burnley's first goal, which bounced in off the cheek of Austin to break the striker's duck, he then capped a memorable debut by heading in late on to get the Clarets' campaign up and running.
Jimmy McIlroy MBE salutes the Turf Moor crowd
The Clarets had earlier handed debuts to the on-loan Manchester City defensive pair of Ben Mee and Kieran Trippier in front of Lee Grant, who got the nod to start in goal ahead of Brian Jensen.
And while Treacy began his Burnley life on the bench as he builds towards full match fitness, Watford included a familiar face in attack in former Claret Chris Iwelumo.
The big striker, returning less than a month after heading south, struck up a useful partnership with Marvin Sordell and it was Sordell who should have made more of the game's first real opening when he misplaced a pass with men over in the penalty area.
Seizing possession, Burnley hit straight back on the break with Ross Wallace seeing his goalbound shot blocked after being released by Dean Marney.
And in a decent spell for the Clarets, Marney then failed to make the most of a poor clearance from Scott Loach before the Watford goalkeeper was relieved to see Jay Rodriguez steer a volley just wide after Trippier's cross had given the Clarets' number nine their best chance of the half.
Friends re-united: Ross Wallace and Chris Iwelumo
Loach and Rodriguez were involved again as the keeper tripped the striker right on the edge of the penalty area and although the Clarets again showed some welcome initiative from the free-kick, the deflection on Wallace's attempt summed up a first 45 minutes of nearly but not quite.
Watford, meanwhile, were lively going forward with Sordell invariably involved in their best moments.
And after the England under-20 international had threatened a couple of times he played the key role in Watford going 1-0 just moments before the break.
A clever pass from Ross Jenkins released Sordell and the youngster slipped past Andre Amougou before crossing perfectly for Forsyth to head home at the far post.
Howe made a change at the interval with Austin replacing the injured Martin Paterson and the substitute had the chance to make an immediate impact.
Not for the first time, the tidy Trippier delivered an excellent ball from the right flank but Austin's contact with his knee from inside the six-yard box sent the ball just the wrong side of the post.
Charlie Austin celebrates his first Burnley goal
Grant was needed to make sharp saves at the feet of Iwelumo and from the lively Yeates but Burnley were beginning to look more potent as Rodriguez twice got sights of goal, dragging a shot wide after being picked out by Danny Fox and then lifting a shot over the top after Wallace had played him in.
And as the Clarets looked to build up a head of steam, Howe sent on Treacy to try and engineer an opening with 25 minutes to go.
The former Preston winger didn't waste time in making his presence felt, but even though Loach was unable to hold the Irishman's stinging drive no-one in a claret shirt was able to capitalise on the rebound.
And five minutes later Treacy and his new team-mates were left with a Herculean task not to finish the day empty handed when Yeates made it 2-0.
A flick-on and the presence of Sordell drew too many Clarets to the ball and when Ben Mee's tackle on Sordell released Yeates, the winger, who scored home and away for Sheffield United against Burnley last season, kept his nerve to run on and beat Grant to seemingly bank the points.
Captain Chris McCann looks to lead from the front
But there was still time for the Clarets to stir themselves and mount a fightback as Austin claimed his first goal in a Burnley shirt, deflecting home a shot from Treacy after Trippier's trickery had earned a free-kick which was again well worked by Wallace.
And with Treacy showing his appetite to go for goal at every opportunity, there suddenly looked a way back for Howe's men.
The substitute almost rescued a point with a dipping volley from another fine Trippier pass which Loach had to beat away.
But the Irishman wouldn't be denied his moment of glory and with seven minutes to go timed a run perfectly to leap and meet a Wallace cross with a header which he powered beyond Loach to make himself an instant Turf Moor favourite.
Keith Treacy heads the Clarets level and celebrates with Jay Rodriguez
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Fox, Amougou, Mee, McCann, Wallace, Marney, Rodriguez, Paterson (Austin ht), Elliott (Treacy 65). Subs: Jensen, Edgar, Bartley.
Booked: Amougou 53
Watford: Loach, Dickinson, Eustace, Taylor, Mariappa, Yeates, Iwelumo (Deeney 68), Forsyth, Doyley, Jenkins, Sordell. Subs: Gilmartin, Mirfin, Mingoia, Massey.
Booked: Doyley 90
Referee: Mark Brown