Two goals in four dramatic second-half minutes from super-sub Sam Vokes and captain marvel Jack Cork sealed a thrilling fightback as the Clarets continued their march towards a possible place in Europe.
Sean Dyche’s men looked as though they may be heading for only a second defeat in eight games after Roberto Pereyra had put Watford ahead early in the second half.
The Hornets hadn’t lost at home in 2018 but nothing looks capable of stopping the Clarets at the moment.
And they raised themselves for another big finish to grab a third successive away win for the first time as a top-flight club since 1973 to go six points clear of Leicester City in seventh place in the Premier League.
Former England captain Ray Wilkins was remembered before kick-off
Vokes sparked the fightback with his first touch after coming off the bench to level the scores with 20 minutes to go.
And in thrilling scenes, stand-in skipper Cork then nodded in his second league goal of the season before the Clarets stood firm to repel a late onslaught in more than five minutes of stoppage time to leave the travelling fans chanting about the prospect of a European tour next season.
The Clarets were forced to make a change from the side that had secured a third successive win at West Bromwich Albion a week previously as Ben Mee missed only his third league game of the season through injury.
That meant a re-call for Kevin Long in the centre of defence and the skipper’s armband for Cork on his return to the club where he spent half a season on loan almost a decade ago – club captain Tom Heaton’s return to first-team duty starting with a place among the substitutes.
Goalline technology confirmed Jack Cork's winner
Nick Pope’s outstanding form had earned him the right to continue his run in the side and he demonstrated it again with a smart early save to keep out a low shot from Pereyra after the Argentina international had tried to thread a shot into the bottom corner.
The Hornets had the look of a side not short of confidence after going unbeaten at Vicarage Road in six games in league and cup.
And Pereyra was denied by Pope again 10 minutes before the break, this time the Clarets’ keeper diverting the ball away from the top corner with a superb one-handed stop.
But it was not all Watford as Burnley looked to complete a first double over Watford since their 2010/11 Championship campaign.
Chris Wood was only inches off-side when he headed in a cross from Matt Lowton after just a couple of minutes.
And mid-way through a first half increasingly dominated by the hosts the Clarets could have gone ahead.
Ashley Westwood spread the play beautifully for Aaron Lennon, making his 350th Premier League appearance, to run at Jose Holebas.
Lennon made the space to deliver a dangerous low cross which failed to bring a connection from Ashley Barnes in front of goal and when Westwood followed up, his goalbound shot was blocked by the giant figure of Sebastian Podl.
Westwood, enjoying another fine game, is yet to register his first Burnley goal but the midfielder went close again a minute into the second half as the Clarets tried to take the initiative.
Goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis dropped a cross from Lowton on the edge of the penalty area but spared his blushes as he followed the ball out of the box and managed to block Westwood’s first-time shot with his body.
That was an isolated threat from the Clarets, though, and Watford’s persistence paid off with an hour gone when they went in front.
Sean Dyche managed Watford in the 2011/12 season
Pereyra had been constantly knocking on the door and moments after seeing a free-kick bravely blocked by Lennon, the former Juventus wideman broke the deadlock.
Burnley will be disappointed with the way they allowed Daryl Janmaat to return the pressure and get the ball into the feet of Will Hughes who opened up the Clarets’ defence with a one-two with Troy Deeney.
Stephen Ward made a fine tackle to stop Hughes shooting but the full-back could only direct the ball into the path of Pereyra, who finally managed to beat Pope with a fierce strike from 10 yards as the keeper flew across his goal.
The Clarets needed to change something to get back into the game and when they did, it proved to be an inspired substitution.
Vokes was sent on in place of GK Nkoudou, who had earned a second start in the place of the injured Johann Berg Gudmundsson, with Burnley lining up a free-kick near the right touchline.
Westwood delivered it and when Adrian Mariappa headed the ball back towards his goal, Vokes was perfectly placed to steer the ball past Karnezis with his toe-end.
And three minutes later the turn-around was completed in dramatic style.
This time Westwood directed a free-kick beyond the far post where Long nodded the ball back for Cork to beat Karnezis with a header which the Greece international palmed away but from behind the line – goalline technology confirming a fourth successive top-flight win for the first time for the Clarets since 1968.
Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Long, Tarkowski, Ward, Lennon (Hendrick 81), Cork, Westwood, Nkoudou (Vokes 70), Barnes, Wood. Substitutes: Heaton, Taylor, Marney, Wells, Bardsley.
Booked: Nkoudou, Lowton
Watford: Karnezis, Janmaat (Okaka 76), Prodl, Mariappa, Holebas, Capoue, Doucoure (Carillo 85), Femenia, Hughes (Richarlison 85), Pereyra, Deeney. Substitutes: Gomes, Britos, Cathcart, Gray.
Booked: Doucoure, Okaka
Referee: Paul Tierney