The Edinburgh side, sent in to bat, struggled to come to terms with the accuracy of the visiting bowlers.
All eyes were on Arbroath's new recruit Alvin Pollard, the cousin of big-hitting West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard and he played his part with three important wickets including that of Craig Wright.
However, he was upstaged by Benny McGill who claimed a four-wicket haul while conceding just 19 runs. Saltires bowler Calvin Burnett also took two as Watsonians were dismissed for just 106.
If Arbroath thought their task was going to be easy they were quickly made to think again as Paddy Sadler, a possible Saltires debutant today, and Dewald Nel, who will return to YB40 action against Essex, collected six wickets from their 13 overs each.
However, the nerves in the visiting ranks were eased by overseas amateur Hamish Bartlett who top-scored with 37. Fraser Burnett, Calvin's brother, contributed an important 21 and McGill completed an excellent all-round performance with an unbeaten 14 as Arbroath reached their target with three wickets to spare.
"We made it difficult for ourselves as we always seem to do," said captain Marc Petrie, "but it's great to start with a win against the champions."
Carlton emphasised their title credentials with an emphatic victory over top-flight newcomers SMRH in a match that marked the return to Grange Loan of Carlton legend Cedric English, now the SMRH player-coach. Despite an early injury which meant he needed a "runner", English was his side's top scorer with 32.
However, he became one of rising spin star Chayank Gosain's four victims and his departure meant SMRH had to be content with 159-7. Fraser Watts got the chase off to a solid start with 26 before youngster Kyle Macpherson claimed a 100-ball half-century.
Carlton captain Preston Mommsen warmed up for today's clash with Essex by stroking a match-winning 66no from just 68 deliveries as Carlton won with more than 50 overs to spare.
Like Arbroath, Aberdeenshire proved the capital sides won't have it all their own way with a thrilling win at Grange. Chasing 143 in a match reduced to 30 overs, the Dons were in trouble on 40-3 before Sri Lankan Harsha Cooray (70no) and player-coach Neil MacRae (34no) led the victory charge.
The Western Premier Division suffered a complete washout.
In the Eastern First Division relegated Forfarshire demolished West Lothian at Broughty Ferry, rattling up 341 for six off their rain-affected innings of 46 overs.Wicketkeeper Craig Wallace hit 144 and Matty Parker 82 as the pair shared a first- wicket stand of 183. Aman Bailwal scored a quickfire 52 before claiming a wicket with the first ball of the reply. West Lothian were all out for 154.
Glenrothes won their first match on the national stage snuffing out Penicuik at Kirkhill. Going into the final two overs, the home side had five wickets in hand and needed 15 for victory but tight bowling and a couple of run-outs tilted the balance.
Dundee HSFP found the going tough on their return to the big-time away to Falkland. High could only make 99 for seven and the target proved no problem for the hosts.