Steve Cotterill marked down Nottingham Forest's first goal at home in 649 minutes as a tribute to owner Nigel Doughty, who died last weekend.
However, Forest could not hold on and produce a win for in their first match since the chairman's death at his home in Lincolnshire.
Troy Deeney's first-half header earned Watford a 1-1 draw on what was an emotional day at the City Ground.
The hosts deservedly went in front through Gareth McCleary's 25-yard strike before Deeney equalised a minute before the break.
The result ended Forest's six-match losing run in the league at home but they remained five points adrift of safety.
And after the game Cotterill said: "We scored a goal for Nigel but we would like to have kept a clean sheet and won the game for him.
"It's been a tough week but I like to think I am an honest manager and I thought we had enough opportunities to have won two games today.
"We played really well, created an abundance of chances, didn't take them and are left feeling slightly disappointed.
"But we've got 17 matches left and if we give the same kind of performance at Middlesbrough on Tuesday night I will be very pleased.
"Having said that we have not been as bad as our results indicate. A lot of the games we have lost have been similar to today's but we can take some positives from this."
Cotterill, whose side remained in the relegation zone, added: "We've picked up a point, gone up a place in the table and now we've got to start scratching away at the people above us."
Watford extended their unbeaten run to three matches and manager Sean Dyche admitted: "We are happy with a point. It would have been tough for any side coming to Forest today with the emotion and also new players in the side.
"We have to accept that Forest had better chances overall but, although we weren't quite there today, we did very well to respond to going behind with what was a resilient performance.
"We played quite well in patches and even had a couple of chances to nick it in the second half but had we taken one of them we would have been nicking the result.
"But the players have been magnificent this season and acquitted themselves very well in the circumstances. They've shown a lot of honest endeavour and we've got some good players."