James Vaughan and Joel Lynch struck to seal a top Huddersfield Town win - and spare Alex Smithies' blushes.
After Nahki Wells had put Town ahead, the keeper gifted Watford a route back into the John Smith's Stadium showdown, allowing Odion Ighalo's shot to squirm into the net.
But Vaughan restored the lead with a neat flick, then centre-back Lynch sealed the three points with an overhead kick.
There were four changes by each boss after FA Cup third-round defeats the previous weekend, Town at home to Reading and Watford at Chelsea.
Lynch was back after a six-game injury lay-off, with Murray Wallace, like Harry Bunn, ruled out by a hamstring problem.
Sean Scannell and Jacob Butterfield also returned while Oscar Gobern made a first start of the season in place of suspended former Watford midfielder Jonathan Hogg.
Adam Hammill, this week loaned to Championship rivals Rotherham United, was the other player to drop out of the Town team.
Watford handed a debut to Mexican World Cup wing-back Miguel Layun, while Gomes, Almen Abdi and Matej Vydra returned.
In pictures: Huddersfield Town 3-1 Watford
Scannell produced some dangerous early runs down the right, but was off target with the final delivery, while Troy Deeney's well-struck shot was blocked by Town skipper Mark Hudson.
Wells came close with a 27th-minute header from Jack Robinson's cross, but Gomes tipped the ball over.
Three minutes later, Town keeper Alex Smithies showed great reflexes to block a volley from Gianni Munari, while Brazilian Gomes held Butterfield's shot in first-half stoppage time.
Smithies was busy early in the second half, and did well to block a Layun drive from Vydra's pass.
Wells finally made the breakthrough in the 52nd minute, shooting home smartly after a Butterfield effort was blocked.
Watford made a triple substitution in the 64th minute, and one of the new faces, Ighalo, netted in the 66th with a low angled shot which squirmed through Smithies' grasp.
Watford had also changed their keeper, and Jonathon Bond was beaten by Vaughan as he met Wells' 77th-minute cross.
Lynch gave Town their crucial two-goal cushion in the 83rd minute, and the home team stood firm through six minutes of time added on.